The salmon life cycle is quite interesting. According to Fish Ex salmon have quite a life ahead of them. Spanning several years these fish will leave home, adjust to saltwater, readjust the fresh water, and swim upstream to their natal areas. All of this because they are wired to swim back to where they started and lay their eggs. As they do they will quit eating and live off the fat they have stored. Once the eggs are laid, the fish will die in about 2 weeks.
The concept of swimming upstream is well used for any analogy regarding going in the opposite direction. I have seen shirts that picture this phrase in fun and unique ways. Usually the “go against the flow” phrase is used because it is a little more edgy.
A more traditional approach is found Leviticus. As the Israelites were at Mt. Sinai, God established several boundaries concerning holiness. He wanted them to take precautionary measures before they would enter Canaan. We know how the story ends. The people take on the religious personality of those they were to conquer. What I find interesting is that God hints at this with the command He gave.
22 “You must keep all my decrees and regulations by putting them into practice; otherwise the land to which I am bringing you as your new home will vomit you out. 23 Do not live according to the customs of the people I am driving out before you. It is because they do these shameful things that I detest them. 24 But I have promised you, ‘You will possess their land because I will give it to you as your possession—a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from all other people.
God wanted them to swim upstream to holiness. The land they were going to enter was filled with horrible practices as God viewed the people. God told the people to not live according to the customs of the people. The Apostle Paul told the church at Rome something very similar.
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Swimming upstream is not just for salmon. God is calling us as His followers to swim upstream in our culture. The consistency of God is amazing sometimes. Whether the Israelites, Romans, or us today, God wants us to follow His direction instead of the direction of our culture. How hard this is! All of our education, entertainment, and desires go against God. How much easier would it be to simply float down the river? Going upstream is arduous and exhausting. However, if the salmon do not do this the next generation will never come to life. God wants us to flow upstream toward holiness because if we do not we will never birth the next generation.
Christianity is only one generation from extinction. Swim upstream.