Posted: 2/10/17 at 3:30 p.m. Column by Ed Jordan.
I like to fly on large airplanes. I don’t like the time spent waiting around airports, especially when I spend more time in the airport than on the actual flight! Years ago, I used to go up in a small private plane with a friend of mine. My friend was always trying to explain the laws of aerodynamics to help me understand how a plane flies. In a nutshell, the airflow and speed of the air flowing over the top of the wing provides upward suction, and the air flowing under the wing produces lift. The two work together, along with the speed of that air. One other interesting relevant concept is that planes get more lift when they take off flying into the wind. Major airports are now built giving consideration to the most frequent wind direction at that site. The runways are laid out to allow the planes to take off into the wind, because they get more lift faster when flying into the wind.
Many in our culture today have as their mantra: “Just go with the flow.” It was a part of my own subculture when I was in college. It is a form of passivity. It implies that the stream is flowing, and the way of least resistance is to just go wherever the stream takes you. Put your kayak in the water and drift down the river. Of course, those who just go with the flow will not arrive at a destination that is upstream, only downstream.
Other similar metaphors are: “take the easy way,” or “stay with what is popular,” or “let the winds of culture set your destination.” However, just because it appears that a majority of people around us are getting on a raft being rapidly propelled down a river toward some yet unperceived massive waterfall with a life-threatening drop to the river far below, is no reason for us to jump on the raft and go with the flow.
We tend to think that this ‘go with the flow’ philosophy is a new phenomenon, but it is not. Proverbs 14:12 (ESV), written approximately 2,800 years ago, warned against choosing ways which appear to be right but which in reality lead to death: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Approximately 2,000 years ago, Jesus warned us about going with the flow of humanity instead of following the way God directs us to follow.
Here are Jesus’ words on this subject, found in Matthew 7:13–14 (ESV): “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” In The Message, the passage reads like this: “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.”
From this we see that those who are following God will often find themselves moving against the flow, swimming against the stream which is bringing considerable energy and power against the person’s desired trajectory, in order to move the person downstream with the mass and flow of the crowd of humanity. We need to examine our ways to see if those ways are based merely upon human popularity or fads, or whether they are indeed the path that leads to God and life. As Christians, we should realize that when we are following Christ, we will likely find ourselves living counter-culturally as Christians, which expresses itself as going upstream against the flow.
The encouragement for us is that for those who fly with God against the wind will discover God raising us up to soar above the crowd, as stated in Isaiah 40:31 (The Message): “But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”
May God show you the correct path on which to live, give you strength to follow that path even if it is against the winds of culture, and may He raise you up to soar as an eagle.