I recently heard a minister on the radio say that as Christians, we should live our lives like we’re on a war ship, not a cruise ship! The analogy resonated with me because when I heard it, my family was in the midst of a cultural battle. I felt like our opinions and beliefs were being attacked by many who didn’t understand our convictions. And the minister’s words gave me hope. This is exactly what being a Christian is supposed to feel like.

A cruise ship is designed for relaxation. Passengers are catered to, pampered, and freed from responsibilities. They are encouraged to kick back and close their eyes, disconnecting from the world around them. Their trip should be easy and uneventful. Soldiers on a war ship, however, must be on guard, with their eyes open and alert. They don’t sail aimlessly but proactively, engaging the enemy head-on. Their trips aren’t easy but challenging and action-packed.

When I think about the apostle Paul and other Christians in the early Church, it is clear they were offensive and driven by mission. The message of Christ compelled them to go against the grain and do what was needed, never what was easiest. In their culture, this often meant being beaten, imprisoned, and stoned. But Paul’s perspective was that “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

I find it sad that as the Body of Christ, we have drifted so far from the warship mentality of the early Church and instead find the most satisfaction living on “easy street.” As mothers, we are tempted to lower the moral bar for our children because it seems easier than making them upset or standing out from the crowd. Sadly, many of our Christian children and teens dress, talk, and act just like the world. They watch the same movies and listen to the same music.

Can those looking from the outside even tell which ship we’re on?

In America we are blessed we don’t face the threat of being beaten or imprisoned for our faith. Our persecution will probably never be as severe as that of those early Saints. But if the message of Christ compels us and we are living by His Word and not the world’s standards, we will at times earn persecution. We may feel lonely in the rough, choppy waters while our neighbors sail on the calm open seas. But as Paul says, we should “count it as joy, dear brothers and sisters,” for it means we are on the right ship.

One war strategy I find helpful is having “parenting mentors” who are a few steps ahead of my family in the battle. In a culture where most families flock to the path of least resistance, it helps to have a focal point for where my husband and I would like to end up.

We look to families who have raised well rounded children; families who have engaged the culture but stayed true to their convictions; families whose lives look noticeably different from the masses and whose hearts are ablaze for the Lord.

What choices did they make to get to where they are? It is in their wake we seek to follow.

Like anything in life, keeping our eyes fixed on the goal keeps our feet on the right path. If we want our families to win the cultural war, we will have to walk through some messy battles. But focusing on where we’re headed and being encouraged by those who have gone before us can give us the strength we need to stay the course and finish well.