Float or Fight

person kayaking on river

One-hundred years ago, G.K. Chesterton quipped, “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it” (Everlasting Man). There is too much floating these days.

The cultural stream is running fast. In fact, it is no longer a stream. It is a raging river. How can we fight against the river’s force? The first task is to realize that we are in it. And that if we let it, it will take us where it is heading. If we are not fighting it, we are going the same direction as the belly-up fish. And lest you need a reminder, our culture is not headed to Canaan. Their travel brochure will not say it, but Sodom is its destination, and all the way to Gomorrah if they can.

So, our first task is to acknowledge culture’s strong current. The second is to realize we may have been seduced already.

There is another quote of Chesterton’s that is helpful. “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”

The quotation above comes from “The Riddle of the Ivy,” a short sketch in his Tremendous Trifles. When a friend asks why he is packing his luggage, Chesterton tells him he is traveling through Paris, Belfort, Heidelberg, and Frankfort, with the aim of finding the Battersea district of London.

Knowing that his destination is their current location, his friend says, “I suppose it is unnecessary to tell you that this is Battersea?”

“It is quite unnecessary,” responds Chesterton, using paradox as he loved to do, “and it is spiritually untrue. I cannot see any Battersea here; I cannot see any London or any England. I cannot see that door. I cannot see that chair: because a cloud of sleep and custom has come across my eyes. The only way to get back to them is to go somewhere else; and that is the real object of travel and the real pleasure of holidays. Do you suppose that I go to France in order to see France? Do you suppose that I go to Germany in order to see Germany? I shall enjoy them both; but it is not them that I am seeking. I am seeking Battersea. The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”

It is difficult for us to see culture and its powerful ways because “a cloud of sleep and custom has come across” our eyes. Therefore, we have a necessary third task. We must immerse ourselves in Scripture. That is how we travel outside of culture. There is another “land” waiting for us there. There is another kingdom within its pages. And it is a kingdom with a much different culture. The Kingdom of God, you see, runs counter to the kingdom of man.

It is true. It is much easier to float than fight. But fight we must. Three tasks are necessary if we are to do so. The first is to recognize culture’s strong pull. The second is to realize it may already have taken us downriver. And, therefore, the necessity of our third task. We must know our Bibles. For that to happen, we must read them.

Only then will we be able to fight culture’s strong current. If we don’t, we will find ourselves floating amongst all the other dead things.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
April 18, 2024

“Amending the Soil” Christian Education Conference

Register or volunteer for Bible Day Camp now