Every celebrity looks to associate themselves with a popular brand as to increase their personal exposure to the public. Landing an endorsement deal is a mark of evolution in the next level to stardom. Every now and then someone comes along and hijacks a brand without the brand’s approval in hopes of gaining attention for themselves. Even when the association turns out to be false, the individual can gain national attention causing an even greater surge of stardom. Take for instance the stance Nike has taken against rapper Little Nas X’s limited edition “Satan Shoes.” Earlier this week my inbox was flooded with stories of Little Nas X’s new shoes modeled after the Air Max ‘97s. The shoes were to go along with the release of his video for his song Montero that shows him falling into hell, where he dances with Satan. Even though Nike says they did not create them, the shoes are very real. They have the famous Nike swoosh and are reported to contain a drop of blood. They are adorned with a pentagram and are stamped with the phrase “Luke 10:18” – a reference to Satan falling from heaven. Little Nas X’s company made 666 pairs of the shoe and are marked with the production line number.
Even though Nike has taken legal steps to distance themselves from Little Nas X’s and assure consumers they had nothing to do with the shoe, the damage is done. So much so that when I heard the story of the shoes earlier this week I assumed Nike was behind them. Given the recent track record of Nike seeking out controversial figures to endorse with their brand, why wouldn’t we think the story was true. Even though parents allowed their children to rock out to Little Nas X’s Old Town Road, he’s no saint. Simply listening to the lyrics of the second verse where he brags of cheating on his girl and chasing after…well you can read for yourself; he makes it clear he’s not looking to be aligned as the next Hanna Montana. So when I heard he had Nike Satan Shoes, I thought nothing of them being fake. Given their past individual performances it wasn’t hard to place them both together.
Now both political sides are throwing stones at each other over the shoes. The Right says, “how dare Satan have a pair of shoes” and the Left says, “how dare you celebrate ‘Old Town Road’ and be offended by ‘Montero’,” but I see the whole situation as another example of “we are known by the company we keep.” Parents must do a better job of monitoring what their children are exposed to and Christians need to decide what battles are really worth fighting. After a child has been allowed “see and hear” it’s too late for parents to act offended. Equally when Christians only engage the culture when something flamboyant happens our opinion is of little value when we finally do speak.
In 2 Corinthians 6:14 we are told Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? We like to use this as a dating or marriage passage but it is not limited to personal relationships. We “yoke” ourselves with the actions of others when we support them with our resources. Time, money, attention and even lack of input are resources that God puts within our control for the influence on our culture. When we don’t use discernment in their use we are not being good stewards. We limit our impact when we attempt to engage after something has been allowed to become a part of culture.
Today, be mindful of your scope of influence and of those to whom God has put in your care. We can be in the world but not of the world. Only then will we be taken seriously when it’s our time to speak.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
Serving the Savior,
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