For much of our nation’s history, Christians could float with the current of culture as it was going generally in the same direction we wanted to go. Christianity was ‘mainstream’–literally! But, several decades ago, while complacency and compromise with things in the culture that didn’t fit with the Bible let us drift asleep, the current swept us down the wider branch that leads to destruction instead of the narrow creek off to the side that few find (Matthew 7:13-14). Many are just now waking up to our danger and wanting to fight upstream but don’t know how.
I. 1 Peter 4:12-19. We must know the current. In the first century, Christians were persecuted because the paganism of ancient Rome insisted that they worship the emperor as a deity. Terrible things occurred to those who trusted in no other God and wouldn’t bow to the affairs of the state. Today, humanism that tolerates no god but man himself, seeks the state as man’s savior and demands fealty to doctrines contrary to biblical teaching, such as gender identity, homosexual marriage, abortion until birth, etc. It’s no wonder that Christians today find themselves in the rapids and up against the rocks of persecution like those twenty centuries before (Philippians 3:10-11; Hebrews 2:10-11).
II. 2 Corinthians 10:2-6. We must know our equipment. To fight upstream in this spiritual battle, we must know that we will lose if we wage war as the world does. We have spiritual weapons that can demolish strongholds. Among many methods mentioned in Colossians 3:12-17, love is foremost to bind all these efforts together and should be used while leaning on God’s understanding (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). The full armor of God with all of its various functions is essential as a true “life” preserver in determination to regain the narrow fork. We must recognize the attitudes, beliefs, values, and practices of the world that we’ve accepted into our lives and put in the hard effort of paddling upstream to return to God’s Word in all things for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-11).
III. 1 John 3:1-3. We must know our destination. As individual Christians we must know to avoid the world (2 Timothy 3:1-5), but we must help others keep the focus of walking as children of light (Ephesians 5:8-11). Fixing our eyes on Jesus, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, we won’t grow weary and lose heart in the hard work that will be required to set ourselves back on the narrow fork (Hebrews 12:1-4). Jesus is that hope through the temporary trials of the rapids and rocks (1 Peter 1:3-7) until we reach our goal. It will take great determination to purify ourselves and encouragement of others to fight our way upstream.
The pull of the humanistic current of culture is strong and hard to resist. Awakening to the spiritual battle, we must understand the danger, equip ourselves with the weapons God has provided for us, and fight upstream to the destination promised to us. Who can you get to fight against the current with you?