While I’m a devout football fan, I had a tough time tuning in to this year’s Superbowl (although you should read my amazingly accurate Superbowl prediction here!), as two of the four teams I can’t stand, were playing. (Incidentally, the other two teams I can’t stand lost to these two teams, in the playoffs two week prior!) (That’s a lot of Two’s and to’s.)
God mercifully protected me from having to turn down a bunch of Superbowl watching parties by having my wife and I traveling on the day of the big game. So I caught glimpses of Seattle’s epic victory while navigating Chicago’s O’Hare airport.
A few days after the game, however, I dialed up a Youtube channel that had all of the Superbowl commercials. I enjoyed catching up on the commercials I missed and am always amazed at what some companies will do with their $4,000,000 commercial spot. One that left many inspired and in tears (according to viewer comments) was done by Microsoft. It was a powerful 60 second ad:
I’ve watched this commercial a few times and found myself inspired each time. The people and stories they used to illustrate the power of technology make me want to stand up and cheer; in fact, it almost makes me like Microsoft. (Which as a life-long Apple guy, that’s a big shift!) (Notice I did say, “almost” makes me like Microsoft).
But as I thought about all the claims this commercial made for technology, it reminded me very much of the claims Jesus made about Himself, and about His followers. In fact, I’m fully convinced that the things “technology can do for us” should be the calling card of every church that truly follows Jesus. Imagine if your church reader board said,
“Come to our church: We will unite our community, inspire people to be great, take you places you’ve never dreamed of, give hope if you’re feeling hopeless, give you a voice if you’re feeling voiceless and we empower everyone who walks through these doors.”
I bet you’d have a few people coming in to check out your claims.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that those claims should be true of every believer in Christ — every person striving to live the Overboard Life. Let’s look at each claim:
The power to unite us: As Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure, He prayed for unity to exist among us (John 17). He prayed that we would love each other with the same love God has for us, and that through our common love of a not-so-common God, we would be united in our worship, our work and our Kingdom dreams. True unity doesn’t come from a computer screen, but from a faith built on the unchanging nature of our God, expressed in genuine love for others.
It inspires us: When I contemplate all that God has done for me, I’m inspired to grow and be who God wants me to be, so that I can do what God wants me to do. In Romans 12:1 Paul writes, “Therefore, in view of God’s mercy…” we should live sacrificially for Him. The more I think about His mercy, His desire to pay the price for my sins, the more I’m inspired to step out of the boat and live out my faith. And I’ve noticed that when I take those steps of faith, others are inspired, too. And when I see others take the leap of faith, it inspires me to go even further! God is the greatest inspiration for every good and decent action.
Technology has taken us places we only dreamed of: When I began serving the Lord with my life, I never imagined the places I’d visit, the people I’d meet or the opportunities God would give me. I’ve had the privilege of working with people from all over the world, I’ve traveled to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, all over North America and have made friendships with people with whom I have but one thing in common — Jesus. I’ve heard the name of God worshipped in dozens of different languages and dialects, and my life has been transformed by the opportunities God has given me. I’m humbled by His provision and for the chances to be used by Him at home and around the world. I never imagined God would use me the way He has, and that He would take me to places I had only dreamed of. He took a lowly fisherman and made him the leader of the early church. He took a humble shepherd and made him king of an empire. He took a servant girl and made her queen of the Kingdom. He took a broken and hurting widow who had nothing, and made her the Great Grand mother of Israel’s greatest king. When you live your life devoted to God I feel like it’s ok to quote Dr. Seuss…”Oh the places you’ll go!”
It gives hope to the hopeless: There is nothing that gives us hope like faith in God. As a race, humans are doomed to live under the curse of sin (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23). Left to ourselves, this curse leaves us without hope and destined for an eternity without God. But God didn’t leave us without hope, instead, He sent His Son Jesus to do the unthinkable — the perfect Son of God became the perfect sacrifice that made it possible to have our sins removed (John 3:16). When we had no hope, God gave us a chance; when we were dead in our sins, He made us alive. And God will do that for anyone who turns to Him in faith. And once your life has been changed by God’s grace and mercy, you should reflect that same hope to others. Nothing gives us hope for a better future than a relationship with God.
It has given voice to the voiceless: Some of the greatest advocates who have spoken for the voiceless are people who have put their faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus was the ultimate example of one who cared for the those forgotten by society, and by His grace and goodness, many of His children do the same today. In fact, no people on earth should care for the voiceless more than those who have been saved by the sacrifice of Christ. While our contemporary culture loves to point out those people who call themselves followers of God but who make Christianity look so spiteful, I’m thankful to look through pages of history and to see people living out their faith and speaking up for the voiceless. The drive to end slavery was initiated and led by people of faith. The women’s movement, at least in its origins, was led by men and women of faith. I spoke with an executive at a ministry that is seeking to end the world’s hunger problem and he told me, with absolute certainty, that the leading voices making a difference in the world’s poorest communities are people of faith. Hospitals were began when people of faith expressed their compassion to the hurting. Orphanages took shape under the community of faith. Today, hundreds of faith-based organizations are rescuing women and children from the sex trade industry and offering them education, training and hope. Knowing Jesus gives us the greatest platform for offering a voice to those who are not heard.
Empowering us all: No technology, no government and no policy, cultural norm or social initiative can ever empower people the way God does. The freedom that comes from knowing God and living a life of faith is unmatched by any other force. The Word of God sets people free to be who God designed them to be, so that they can do what God designed them to do. In a culture where people are longing for connection and fulfillment, a relationship with God empowers people to pursue greatness through the strength, power and resources that God provides. The humblest of humans can rise up to greatness under God’s hand, and “ordinary” individuals perform extraordinary tasks by trusting in Him. There is no other source of empowerment greater than God, and those living the Overboard Life should know it best.
This commercial has challenged me to evaluate my life. Am I leading the charge in unity? Am I trying to inspire others to live a life of godliness? Am I celebrating the journeys of others as they go where they never dreamed of in God’s service? Am I offering hope to those who have none? Is my voice speaking out for the voiceless? Am I living empowered by God, and showing others how to do the same?
Maybe next year you’ll see a commercial during the Superbowl about someone living the Overboard Life. You’ll be moved to see all that God does through people who trust Him with their lives, and you’ll think — I want that to.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!
Project Nehemiah is a book by Joe Castaneda, challenging people to live remarkably, and inspire others to do the same. It’s available during the month of February for just $8.99 + FREE shipping! Order you copy today.