Swimming Upstream

March 8, 2022

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12, NIV).

She is a wonderful young medical colleague in a distant country. Eight years ago, she attended a weekend medical conference led by foreign Christians and found Christ as her Savior. Over those eight years, she became a devoted leader of the Christian medical ministry. Now she is coming to the end of her required national service and must take next steps. I pray for her daily, that she may find additional medical training in an area she loves, that her family may find Christ and that she may be blessed with a Christian husband in a land where there are few.

Finding Christ is just the beginning. Living out the gospel in a world that doesn’t care, or cares angrily against us, is a huge endeavor that requires discipline, strength and courage.

In some countries, living out the gospel means death for Christ followers and those they love. For others, it means loss of job and educational opportunities. For others, it means ridicule by neighbors and those in authority.

For most of us, it means the constant task of working out that which Christ has placed within us when we made Him Lord. Like this young doctor from another country demonstrates, working out family, relational and occupational issues is made more difficult because Christians must do so while swimming upstream against our culture. This building of Christian character, Christian focus, Christian relationships, Christian service and Christian message is dependent on both devotion and hard work. We cannot save ourselves, but we must contribute our will and discipline to allow God’s Spirit to work out His way in us.

As Oswald Chambers put it: “We can do nothing toward our own salvation, but we can work out what God works in, and the emphasis all through the New Testament is that God gives us sufficient energy to do it if we will.”

So, do we have our eyes fixed on Jesus? Are we swimming hard in His direction? Do we maintain discipline in prayer, Bible study, Christian community, service to those in need, Spirit-guided witness and repentance? Fully living out the Christian life is hard because the world wants us to turn around and swim with their current, but the outcomes of swimming upstream are worth the effort. Working out the Christ within us brings joy, peace, purpose, power and eternal blessings—for us and for those God touches during our hard swim.

Dear God,
Help me do the work necessary to live out what you have placed within me.

Al Weir, MD

Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.

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