Nike is promoting fighting for your dreams that other people think are crazy, even against inequalities based on gender, disability, nationality, and religion. The initial rollout of this ad incited an uproar; not because it promotes fighting for dreams against opposition, but because the ad features Colin Kaepernick, who’s dream includes standing against racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem during NFL games. Kaepernick used his platform to fight for his dream, and is the perfect athlete to discuss sacrificing for what you believe in, as he sacrificed his NFL career to take this stand.
Even Nike is demonstrating the message of this ad through sacrificing customers who hide behind the veil of supposed patriotism to ignore the realities of race in America. Racial disparities and racist ideas are as ingrained into the fabric of American culture as apple pie and baseball caps, so for Nike to promote dreaming against this reality, despite the backlash, sets an example worth following. The wide range of consequences, from the burning of apparel in a #JustBurnIt campaign, to a tweet from #45, who Michael Eric Dyson referred to as a “lugubrious leech”, have not deterred Nike from following through with the promotion of this ad.
The notion to “just do it” is not original to Nike. In John Chapter 2, Jesus was at a wedding, along with his mother and his disciples. John’s telling of this storyline goes like this:
- Jesus is at a wedding He was invited to.
- Wine ran out.
- Mary tells Jesus the wine ran out.
- Jesus tells Mary wine running out has nothing to do with them.
What happens next is fascinating to me. After Jesus basically says that the wine shortage isn’t His problem, Mary tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Without his agreement, Mary says when instructions come from Jesus, “just do it.”
Jesus was not going to interfere with the situation until his mother interrupted Him, THEN the first miracle in His ministry took place. Jesus turned the water into wine.
Here’s the takeaway:
Sometimes, God’s interference requires our interruption!
That means that if we’re not willing to address needs by interrupting those who feel like the societal “wine shortages” aren’t their problem, we may miss miraculous transformations that can happen because of our interruptions.
Mary’s response to Jesus’ dismissal shows that she believed for something that she had never seen enough to interrupt Jesus and the servants. Jesus says “this has nothing to do with us”, and Mary replies, “do whatever He says.” This demonstrates that faith is the work we do towards seeing realities that we have not yet known.
*We have not seen racial equality in America.
*We have not seen gender equality in America.
*We have not seen equality for the disabled in America.
*We have not seen religious equality in America.
*We have not seen liberty and justice for all in America.
...but we can, by faith!
Mary, Nike, and Colin Kaepernick show us that when you believe in something, you’ll interrupt the unbothered to ensure that what you believe for becomes a reality.
Here’s something to note: water turning to wine is attributed to Jesus as His first miracle, but HE NEVER DIRECTLY INTERACTED WITH THE WINE. He sent the servants to fill large jars of water, and when they brought it back to the host it was “good wine.” What we see here is that GOD’S POWER was exercised through THEIR WORK!
We need “good wine” in the areas where what should be is lacking in communities, families, churches, and society at large. Let’s be committed to being like Mary who was willing to be interruptive, and like the servants who did the work to fetch the water that Jesus transformed.
Nike is doing a great thing by including Kaepernick in this ad campaign, and we see through this experience that there is a price to be paid for doing what is right in the face of complicit and comfortable supporters.
*PS: I’m writing this blog wearing a Nike tee, Nike shorts, and Nike sneakers. Selah.