Twenty-five years ago this month a small but growing shoe manufacturer decided it needed help in selling more shoes. So it did what every aspiring company does in that situation. It hired a Madison Avenue advertising agency to develop a marketing campaign. The focus of the campaign featured well known people using the company’s shoes with a simple, short slogan as its tag line.
It was the perfect pitch: not too specific to exclude either the older or younger generations, yet catchy enough so that shoe buyers would associate themselves with the successful personalities featured in the ad. As the campaign rolled out something totally unexpected happened. The simple slogan used in the ad was adopted by people of every age, gender, nationality and race and became an anthem for action.
The company – was Nike. The slogan: “Just Do It.” Did it sell more shoes? You bet it did! But for some unexplained reason those three little words also changed the way people viewed themselves in everyday situations. For millions of people around the world that slogan was uniquely empowering. It unlocked strengths that lay hidden inside them. It inspired a generation of people to put aside their doubts and fears and do the things they knew they could and should do. Not world changing things, but life changing things:
– Shy boys found the nerve to ask the cute girls out on a date
– Men and women overcame their anxieties of accepting new jobs far away from home that would allow them to pursue their ambitions
– Underpaid office workers asked the boss for a long-overdue raise
– Abused women found the strength to take action against their abuser and not remain silent any longer.
For some reason that particular catchphrase felt right. No need to over-think things. If you know it’s right, you have the power within you to “Just Do It.”
I wonder if Nike ever paid any royalties for “borrowing” that slogan’s concept from sacred scripture. We heard three versions of it used in today’s readings. First, Moses tells us that God wants us to love him with all our heart and all our soul. There’s no need to search high and low, he said, to find the source of that love. It’s already inside you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart; “you only have to carry it out’. Said in a more-modern way: Just Do It. Love God with all the love that’s already inside you.
The lawyer in the Gospel story questioned Jesus about what he must do to inherit eternal life. He already knew the answer: he must love. God first – with all his heart, mind and strength – and then his neighbor. It all seems so very simple: open your heart to God and your neighbor in love and inherit eternal life. “Do this,” Jesus said “and you will live.” But you already knew that. All that’s left is to “Just Do It!”
In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus poses a situation where there isn’t any time to think about what should be done. The only decision to be made by the Samaritan is whether to interrupt his journey to help a stranger in need. When he saw the robber’s victim the Samaritan’s sense of compassion and love told him what he knew he needed to do. At that moment, he needed to be a neighbor to that suffering man. What we should do, Jesus tells us, is to “Go and do likewise.”
Just to be clear, Our Lord is not asking us to put our self in danger by traveling down unfamiliar roads. He’s not asking us to be heroes. All he asks of us is a willingness to interrupt our comfortable lives long enough to use the love that is already inside us to help someone we know is in need.
Life today can be very complex at times. There’s always so much going on with work, family and a myriad of personal commitments. It becomes easy to overlook situations that cry out for compassion and love.
But loving God and loving our neighbor are two sides of the same coin. The more we love God, the more that love expresses itself in the way we love of our neighbor. If we find ourselves in a situation that calls for mercy, caring, charity, or kindness, Jesus tells us not to stop and weigh the pros and cons or be afraid to do what you know is right. Just do it!
When we get into the habit of sharing the love God gave us with others it can be a very powerful force in our own lives. In loving God we learn to care more, forgive more and love more deeply. We begin to notice the occasions when our concern and compassion can make a difference in someone’s life.
Who are the travelers in need on the road of your life? They may be a parent, a relative, a friend or your next-door neighbor. It’s in simple acts of concern and caring for them that you can ease the pain of the hardships life has placed on them. So why not-
– Spend a few minutes with someone in need listening to their troubles and showing them that you care
– Help them with the grocery shopping
– Ask them if you can lend a hand with the housework or
– Simply write them a note of encouragement
Sometimes that’s all it takes to make a difference in someone’s life.
You don’t need permission to show someone you love and care about them.
Just do it.