8 Ways Oprah's Ad Preaches the Gospel
The full text of what she says:
Inside every overweight woman is a woman she knows she can be. Many times you look in the mirror and you don't even recognize your own self, because you got lost - buried - in the weight that you carry.
Nothing you've ever been through is wasted. So every time I tried and failed, every time I tried again, and every time I tried again, has brought me to this most powerful moment - to say:
"If not now, when?"
I feel that way and I know millions of other people feel that way. Are you ready? Let's do this together.
Let me first acknowledge that Oprah does not proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That's the sina qua non of preaching the gospel.
And yet there are more gospel redemptive elements of Oprah's ad than most thirty-forty minute sermons. In addition, Oprah is able to move our hearts in a way most sermons won't - and the fact she can do that in sixty seconds is incredible.
Note: As I've acknowledged before, I own stock of Weight Watchers in my retirement account. I think this company has a great program that applies 12-step recovery program methodology to weight loss. Like this ad, the 12-step is not explicitly Christian but also has strong gospel-redemptive elements.
1) Highlights the deception of the evil one: From Oprah's initial statement, it would appear Oprah's audience is overweight women but the gospel is for every person. After all, we are all subject to the evil one's attacks. Satan's primary tactic is deception - to make people think they're sinners when they're really saints or saints when they're actually sinners. His ploy is to cause you to look in the mirror and not recognize your true identity.
On that note, I would change her verbiage to "Inside every overweight woman is a woman she knows she truly is". The flesh is not who we truly are in Christ. In him, we are new.
2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
2) Highlights the burden of the flesh: Paul's epistle to the Romans talks about how each person is a slave to sin. A person's compulsive relationship with food has all the elements of addiction. Every person is weighed down, lost, and buried by the weight of his own sin.
Psalm 38:4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
3) Encourages the value of change efforts: No one who wants to change enjoys failure. That's why we give up. And yet Oprah recognizes the lessons of repeated failure as preparation for the future - a future which has now arrived in the form of the present. The suffering of past trials is the fertile soil in which seeds of victory will bloom. Failure doesn't kill hope but rather nurtures it.
Hebrews 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
4) Demonstrates vulnerability by sharing her personal failures: The grainy images of Oprah jogging and pumping away on the stairmaster are poignant examples of Oprah's failed change efforts. We all have areas of sin and addictive behavior that we have repeatedly tried and failed to address. Oprah is saying you're not alone. She has been exactly where you are - discouraged, defeated, ashamed, and fearful.
5) Exhorts us to make most of our limited time: "If not now, when?" When is the best time for life change? Right now. This very moment. Don't keep putting it off. There is no perfect moment when you will have sufficient energy, willpower, support, and resources to transform your life.
Ephesians 5:15-16 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
6) Speaks to the audience as one person: Oprah does not address the audience as "Are you all ready?" or "Are some of you ready?" or "Are any of you ready?". No, it's "Are YOU ready?" She is talking to you. Not the person next to you. Not a group of people who are better prepared. She is talking to you - the individual. Jesus did that too.
Luke 13:3 "No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." [Jesus speaking to a group of Jews who looked down on Galileans for their offering practices]
7) Makes a clear call to action: "Let's do this together". There are literally thousands of scripture verses where the biblical authors make clear calls to action. In the gospel, no one is simply a spectator. The gospel is a full-contact sport. What I find so genius is that Oprah never mentions Weight Watchers. It doesn't really matter. If you want to lose weight, then do something. Whatever personal change effort you know you need - controlling one's temper, quitting porn, ending a bad relationship - let's do this together.
8) Invites us to participate in her journey: Oprah is running the race and she has invited you to join her. We will pound the pavement together. The gospel is a journey we embark on together - with all the saints who have gone before us and all the saints who will come after - gazing upon the author and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,