Salmon are peculiar fish.
They are born in rivers, they spend their adult life in the sea and at a certain point, when the time comes to reproduce, they return to the river from which they came. They can recognize the river through which they reached the sea thanks to their sense of smell and the so-called ‘home scent molecular memory’. Thus, guided by their olfactory instinct, they begin to wander the sea or the ocean looking for the mouth of their river. Once they recognize the way home, they begin to swim against the current to the exact point where they were laid in the form of eggs.
Salmon, therefore, swim in the opposite direction to the water flow: this requires considerable energy, clarity of purpose and stubbornness in the face of the obvious adversities that a similar journey requires. In the Christian life we are often like salmon.
There are many fish in the sea, but only a few swim upstream. God did not make all fish the same, in a similar way that not all human beings become Christians. When we are immersed in the sea of our dominant culture we have many choices and alternatives. When Christian find themselves immersed in their society’s dominant culture and tradition, it is easier to conform to it: no one likes to attract attention because they swim against the current.
Yet, Jesus was the countercurrent by definition.
He was a salmon too. Until he turned 30, he was in the sea like the others. Then his ministry began and he started to go upstream, convincing others to do the same. He said countercurrent words about God, His character and His Kingdom. He spent his time with people who were discriminated against and despised. He was a leader against the current of expectations of his Jewish compatriots. He was nothing like what anyone expected and even today, Jesus and His words cause a stir. The Gospel causes a stir. His death for us on the cross is countercultural compared to the saving of self we hear so much about from the modern pulpits.
Young Christian graduates are like fish in the ocean.
After having swam in calm and controlled waters, most of the time under the eyes of adults first (with family) and then friends (from the end of high school to university), they find themselves immersed in a vast and unknown space, with unstable boundaries: the world of work. They find themselves abandoning the cities and churches they belong to, their families and everything they knew in order to undertake new paths of life and growth, new difficulties and new challenges.
With these premises, it is not surprising that even according to scholars the transition from the condition of students to that of workers is one of the most difficult and painful. Without the right energy, clarity of purpose and determination, it is easy to lose your way home. And our home is not here, but in the Kingdom of the One who created us. It is the House of the Lord, where we wish to dwell every day of our lives.
Cross-current is a project designed specifically for young Christian graduates who want to live their faith fully in the workplace.
Born as an extension of the GBU (University Bible Groups), Cross-current allows young Christians who have recently entered the job world to reflect on God’s purposes for work and for us personally, based on a solid theological approach combined with prayer and peer-to-peer mentoring.
Our first weekend together at Bobbio Pellice was the beginning of a wonderful/beautiful three year adventure. We were in a small group of around ten people, both on Zoom and face-to-face. In the course of these three years we will meet another five times.
Each weekend together focuses on a particular theme linked to work and faith in Christ. In particular, this October we saw how it is possible to redeem work by seeing it as a service to God and to others, starting from the study of Genesis 1 and 2. We also saw how God himself gets to work and we learned from the Word [some teachings on] how a Christian should behave at work.
We also had the chance to share in couples or small groups our difficulties and challenges, as well as praying for each other. Obviously there were many fun moments, both in our free time by taking a walk to the nearest bar for the daily supply of caffeine, playing games and eating chocolate on Saturday night!
Cross-current allowed us to not feel like the only salmon in the sea, helping us to create deep relationships with other young people who live the same challenges we face, so that we have the good energy and encouragement to go upstream. The weekend in Bobbio was an opportunity to make clear who God really is, based primarily on His nature and His Word, thus providing a biblical and positive perspective on work. It reminded us what our main goals as Christians are: to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) and to love others as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18).
This first weekend of Cross-current Italy also provided us with practical tools to use every day to see the power of God and His glory come true in our workplaces. In short, it gave us the right determination and ‘stubbornness’ to get to the end of the race.
Last but certainly not least, Cross-current has given us all motivation to truly love our colleagues, our leaders and our jobs, proclaiming salvation by grace in the blood of Jesus through a realistic and consistent testimony carried out day after day.
Cross-current Italy, despite the fact that it has only just begun, has already proved to be the answer to a prayer that I would never have been able to express to God… because the truth is that after graduation I didn’t even know what I needed!
All I knew was that I wanted to follow Christ even as I worked and Cross-current had a scent of Home, just like the river mouth for salmon. It was a great encouragement for me and I am sure my fellow ‘cross-currentees’ feel the same way!
(GBU Turin graduate)