Under Armor has a marketing campaign that caught my eye for one of the superstar athletes. The shirt that caught my attention states “I can do all things”. The athlete associated with that quote is Steph Curry a championship basketball superstar who won a title with the Golden State Warriors in the 2016-2017 season. What caught my attention is the quote is well-known as part of the King James Bible in the Christian community.
“I can do all things” Philippians 4:13a KJV
When I saw this quote on the shirt, I wanted to ask the person to turn around so I could read the second half of that famous verse. But I paused realizing it would not be there. “I can do all things” branded with Under Armor is the perfect slogan of contemporary America. I applaud Curry’s efforts to put his faith front and center, but no way Under Armor is going to give the Bible credit for this marketing campaign or complete the verse it its entirety. In the current form the quote is perfect branding for Under Armor to compete with Nike’s “Just do it”. Is this not the mantra of society? A mantra that tells people “you are sufficient”, “you are perfect”, or “you can do anything you set your mind to do”. The mentality plays right into the larger society messages… Do it if it feels good. Go for it. Nothing can stop you. “I can do all things”. For those unaware the second half of Curry’s quote is “I can do all things” in Christ.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13 KJV
I can do all things through Christ is the actual truth. Secular marketing is happy to promote that people can do anything apart from God but the marketing is not true. We are limited. We cannot work our way to Heaven. We cannot oppose God without consequence. We cannot do all things apart from Christ. Human effort will be insufficient to accomplish anything outside of God’s will.
16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. Romans 9:16 NIV
Curry’s success is a direct result of God not of Curry’s desire, will, effort, or privilege. Those things matter but the success is dependent on God’s mercy. Without God’s grace on our lives then everything our hands touch would be worthless.
One other point regarding this contradiction between the world “I can do all things” and the Christian “I can do all things in Christ” is the full context of Paul’s writing. Paul is not saying he can accomplish anything he wants to accomplish as long as Jesus is his copilot. Paul is not talking about working harder, smarter, or better than everyone else. Paul is talking about contentment and bearing up in whatever place one finds themselves when following God’s plan.
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12 NIV
Paul is telling the audience of his letter that he is not currently in need of anything but he knows what it is to be in need. Paul has been wealthy and, he has been desperately poor. He has lived a privileged life and, he has lived the life of a hated minority. Paul is telling us that he knows how to be content on either extreme of life. Whatever the situation Paul has discovered a secret to being content in hunger, being content well fed. Paul has a secret to live life in any situation and that secret is the quote Under Armor has twisted and broken. Paul goes on to tell his audience the secret in the very next verse. Paul’s secret to living in tough times…
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 NIV
Are you in prison? Paul says the secret to getting through is strength found in Christ. Are you in debt and loosing your home? Paul says the secret to moving on in life is strength found in Christ. Are your children running from God in rebellion? Then your strength is found in Christ. Is life hopeless and you want to end it all? Stop! Fall on your knees and draw strength from Christ. “I can do all things” through Christ. There is no situation, no hardship, no success, no failure, no mortal wound, no broken heart is too much for Christ.