Salmon do it; every year, mid-July through September (into November for some species), these herculean creatures migrate from the ocean waters where they have grown to maturity to spawn in the upper reaches of the rivers of their birth, depositing their eggs on the same gravel beds where they were spawned – it is called the Salmon Run.
With uncanny precision, Salmon return to the natal river where they were born, and, yes, even to the very spawning ground where life began for them. With as amazing as this is, the greater wonder is for most species, it will be their last voyage, afterward, they will die.
Although death is a ninety-nine percent certainty once the salmon has spawned, many will not survive the journey itself. Swimming upstream often against high water and powerful currents brought about by early floods take an unfortunate toll draining their bodies of the strength needed to continue forward but they won’t give up the quest. Their will to survive, to proliferate the population is simply mind-boggling.
Another interesting fact about Salmon is their ecological contribution. In places where the salmon have become extinct, the entire ecosystem is at risk. In turn, river otter, mink, bear and eagle experience loss of population.
Okay, where am I going with this? I believe followers of Jesus should be as Salmon in our fight to reproduce other followers of Jesus. As our world continues in what appears to me a downward spiral into utter godlessness, and the true gospel (not the watered down, feel-good, prosperity, name it and claim it version) looks as if it may be in line for a place on the endangered species list, our spiritual ecosystem is at risk. No, it will not ever become extinct; Jesus has promised, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35), but it will shrink into obscurity as the world will become delusional in latter days choosing to believe lies, and be damned (2 Thessalonians 2:11). Tragically, the headwinds of this approaching storm are already blowing across many of our colleges and university campuses as the new atheist movement and other such anti-Christian, anti-God groups grow in number and influence.
Salmon go against the flow and are not deterred from their goal by opposing forces, nor are they familiar with roadside parks and spring break. Each day they continue forward doing whatever it takes, if necessary paying the supreme price so that a new generation can be born. We should be salmon-like.
Christ follower, there is too much at stake to risk taking a lackadaisical posture with the issues before us. Our families and friends are in the crosshairs, daily falling prey to the deceptive practices of a very real, highly persuasive and extremely aggressive enemy.
Jesus, speaking in Matthew 11:12 tells us this: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force”. The Lord does not alert the reader to an enemy attack on the kingdom of God with these words, but the zeal and determination with which his followers were advancing the gospel. The overriding thought is that of the gospel being propagated in the world not passively, but aggressively. “The gates of hell shall not prevail against the church” (Matthew 16:18) is another passage where we find Jesus speaking in such terms, there suggesting not a defensive strategy to be held by his followers, but an offensive one. Should we be on the march? Yes, I think we should.
I do not suggest disruptive demonstration or advocate picket lines and boycotts that in many ways only give the enemy added ammunition to shoot back with, but a determinate effort by believers to unashamedly stand up for, proclaim and defend spiritual truth (the gospel) in love. The good news being proclaimed respectfully, out of love and concern for the eternal well-being of others, will result in many coming to faith in Christ and in turn, many more will follow. We find our Heavenly Father does not desire that any should perish but that all should come to a place of repentance and be saved (2 Peter 3:9); it should be our desire as well and we should be serious about it while we still can be.
Edmund Burke has said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”, Burke is right. We cannot sit on the sidelines or up in the bleachers and just watch the game, we need to be out on the field playing hard, playing to win. Writing to the church at Corinth, Paul said this, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT). Those do not sound like the words of a mere spectator do they? No, not at all, armchair quarterbacks are not what he has in mind. Friends, fellow followers of Jesus, there is simply too much to gain to lose.
Lastly, if you choose to enlist in the effort to keep the fires of faith burning, expect resistance (salmon do), expect to at some point, somewhere, go head to head with a person as much against the faith as you are for it. What you have that your opposition doesn’t have, however, is a promise; the same promise God made to Joshua when he said to him, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NLT).
That’s my opinion – what’s yours?
End Note: There are many helpful books and websites on sharing your faith and the subject of Apologetics (defending the faith) available online and in your local Christian bookstore. If your church does not currently offer training in these areas I would recommend asking your pastor if such may be worthy of his or her consideration. You will also find helpful Facebook pages such as “Apologetics: Defending the Faith”, and “Reasonable Faith” groups which provide supportive and informative insights and local group meetings where you can interact with others learning to meet challenges effectively.