Summer 2024

THE INCREASE: A Victory That Lasts – Jeff Totten

Everyone knows the Nike brand right? We’re all familiar with the iconic swoosh that is represented on countless of athletes’ clothing and sports gear. But do you know where the title came from? It’s actually a Biblical word.

That’s right. The word, “Nike” originates from the Greek word, “nikao,” which means “victory or to overcome; to conquer or prevail.” Paul used this word over and over again throughout his letters. John also used this word often throughout his writings. For example, he used it four times in the following passage:

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” — 1 John 5:1-5

And where did the Nike swoosh come from? That was designed to represent the Greek goddess of victory, whose name was Nike. Nike had a pair of wings, which was meant to represent the fact that victory in this life is always fleeting. The Greeks carried the perspective that you never know when or where victory would land; you might get lucky and have it land on you one day, but the following day it might fly away again. They lived in a state of constant uncertainty.

But the “nikao” we read about in the Gospel is not the same fleeting prize. In God’s Word we read of a victory that lasts — one that is certain. With this confidence, you don’t have to live a life where victory comes and goes; you don’t have to be on a rollercoaster in your walk with Christ, your marriage, your faith or your joy. Instead we have the full assurance of hope and peace in Christ.

So how do we gain this certainty of victory? In verse one we see that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ holds this victory with full confidence. Then again in verse five we are doubly-assured that our faith in Christ allows us to overcome the world. Victory begins when we know we have placed our faith in Christ and we are certain of our relationship with Him. In verse two we see that our victory is evidenced by our genuine love for God and His people — a love that reflects, though imperfectly, Christ’s own love for us. This love for Christ and our victory in Him is apparent to all when we are obedient to God and follow His will for our lives.

These three — faith, love and obedience — are the benchmarks of our faith and the beginning of a victorious life in Christ.

Does your life represent the spiritual swoosh of victory in a way that is both evident and iconic to others?

Jeff Totten, Detroit Tigers chaplain

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