IN LAST WEEK’S POST, we explored the importance of swimming against the current and not living like dead fish, which flow with the stream. We talked about how trout point their front ends toward the current so they can more easily catch tasty treats flowing downstream toward them, rather than spending their lives darting around, exhausting themselves in their hunt for food.
Do you feel as though you’re darting around in circles with life, without a real purpose, exhausting yourself trying to keep up with the world—news, investments, work, living the good life (whatever that is), Facebook posts, tweets, and comments, and striving (frantically) for more. Are you driven by FOMO—the Fear of Missing Out? (It’s actually become a kind of obsession and disease.)
Or have you done your honest soul digging and come to the realization that living the Christian life is going to look more like a salmon swimming upstream against the current? Or at least it should feel that way. Not burdensome, but a constant exercise in resisting the current of the world.
Let’s simplify the salmon run we talked about last week: swim toward the current and leap, then take breather and leap again. Swim, leap, rest. Swim, leap, rest. Running until your lifecycle is complete and you lay down your earthly carcass and have it replaced with a new, permanent and heavenly model.
How determined are you to live life contrary to the flow? How much time are you dedicating to strengthening and renewing your mind with God’s word to aid your journey and make it really successful?
Unfortunately, some (actually, many) of us have become dead fish. We’ve looked the world in the face, decided we’ve had enough against-the-current swimming and have elected to let the current push us along. We’ve succumbed to the easy, soft culture rather than be different in how we think and live our lives. We mistake love with getting along with everyone.
Matthew Lee Anderson in a 2010 post on his blog site "Mere Orthodoxy" explored T.S. Eliot’s comments in the writer’s book Four Quartets. In it Eliot says, “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.”
Anderson notes: “My own generation, the “millenials,” love to talk about being ‘authentic.’ And well we should, for whatever else happens we cannot fail in honesty or veracity to that which we are—in Christ.
“But as Eliot reminds us, authenticity isn’t easy. Rather, it is the most difficult thing of all. Acknowledging the reality of who we are is the sort of enterprise that will inevitably fail unless aided by grace. The moment we claim to ‘know ourselves’ is precisely the moment when we are most prone to self-deception, especially if that knowledge is not mediated to us by the Word of God.
“Our age is one of deep confusion about the nature and authority of reality, and one of endless amusements to help us avoid it. We are, to return to Eliot, ‘distracted from distraction by distraction,’ working tirelessly to avoid God, our neighbors, and ourselves. No generation has been able to bear reality—ours is simply the first that has been able to construct a virtual alternative that is more to our liking.”
Wow! Able to construct a virtual alternative that is more to our liking.
Many of us have reconstructed reality. Or tried to. The only problem with it is that God’s reality still stands, and it is by His reality that we will all be judged. Not by the ones we’ve made up so that boundaries and our lives fall in more places for us.
And one of the reasons we flip from facing the current to being pushed along by it is the fact that many of us have an aversion to being alone with God. We don’t like His rules so we avoid Him. We don’t like His expectations, so we ignore them.
As our pastor said in his sermon: “We need to eat and live and breathe Jesus Christ. We constantly need to pray, ‘Lord, do not let me be gullible or weak and easily led astray.’” When you’re not spending much time with God, it’s easy to get pulled off course and flipped around to being tugged and carried downstream. Like a powerless, dead fish.
Beefing up your mental, emotional and psychological muscles to fight the good fight doesn’t mean having a toxic mouth, or putting on boxing gloves, or taking up a placard and marching around as a radical culture warrior. It means living out your faith with other believers day by day by day. Urging one another on to good works that reveal the glory of our Heavenly Father. Maybe living more like a First Century Christian than a 21st Century one.
One resource for doing that is Deitrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. Take a look at it on Amazon.com for the reviews. I’m a big Bonhoeffer fan. He’s a deep thinker, and sometimes it takes several reads to wrap your brain around what he says, but he’s always challenging, pushing, thinking. Something few of us do well these days.
So the questions I leave you to ponder this week are:
1. How can I take one step to living closer to Christ and with my brothers and sisters
in the faith?
in the faith?
2. What can I do that is different than what I’m doing right now to make that happen?
Next week we’ll be returning to our study of Peace. That topic just never goes out of style!
Until next week.
May you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).
Photos courtesy of Google Images