Swimming Upstream


At the close of an important speech to Congress on January 6, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt shared his vision for the kind of world he wanted to see after the war was over. He envisioned four basic freedoms to be enjoyed by all people: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. These definitely seem to be legitimate freedoms, who would not want them?

But there’s another kind of freedom that seems to capture the heart’s cry of many in our world today. Ravi Zacharias, in his book Can Man Live Without God, said, “Through technology the whole world has now become the media’s parish, talk-show hosts the prophets, actors and musicians the priests, and any script will do for the Scriptures as long as moral constraints are removed.”

That last phrase is the key, “any script will do for the Scriptures as long as moral constraints are removed.” To be sure, Christianity is not just another form of moralism. Christianity is first and foremost a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. However, Christianity has always taught, or at least it should have, the inherent danger in casting off moral restraint.

When the moral restraints are removed anything goes and society will find itself on a rapid descent into the abyss of chaos and confusion. The concept of one man and one woman entering into a binding, lifelong commitment to each other through marriage, is seen as one option among many. And not necessarily the best option. For some, marriage becomes an outdated and boring option in a sea of others which are more exciting, more contemporary, more in keeping with the times.

The early church were very careful not to place unnecessary burdens on Gentiles who had converted to the new “Jewish sect” which would later become known as Christianity. Certain Pharisees began to teach that these new Gentiles believers should be circumcised and keep the law of Moses in order to be true Christians. A church conference ensued and a decision was made. A letter was written explaining the church’s decision, the last part of which states (in Acts 15:28-29):
(28) For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us (the council of apostles and elders), to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:
(29) that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, and from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.”

The council’s decree included some concessions to Jewish believers (“from blood, and from things strangled) but the kicker is that last “burden” where it says “from sexual immorality.” The early church decreed that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should abstain from sexual immorality (a bit of a catch all term and basically means any kind of sexual activity outside the bonds of matrimony).

It is incumbent upon Christians to swim against the tide of moral depravity evident in the world around us. Sometimes the current is strong and there are many obstacles in the water. Sometimes we just get tired of swimming upstream. It would be so much easier to “float with the flow.” It may be helpful to remember that in the river of life there is a waterfall and once we fall over it there’s no coming back. There’s no rescue from the bottom of the falls. We must be rescued while we’re still in the river.

The way of rescue hasn’t changed. It’s still as easy as calling upon the name of Jesus Christ and asking Him to save you. If you come to Him and ask Him to be your Lord and Saviour then He’ll help you swim against the tide until you safely reach heaven’s shores.

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