My wife and I are both avid gamers, in all formats and many genres. Recently we started playing augmented reality games. She's into Pokemon Go and I'm into Ingress.
I was thinking about how cool it would be if we both played the same game, on the same team. We'd be able to help each other and have the same allies and... compete for xp... Hm.
Especially in Ingress, the best XP is gained by neutralizing opposing portals and switching them to your own side. Players can help each other, but as far as I know only one gets the XP for actually being the one striking the neutralizing blow. So if she and I were to travel around neutralizing opposing portals, we'd be sharing XP. Advancing more slowly we'd actually be holding each other back.
But what if... what if we played on opposing teams? We would oppose each other, neutralize each others' portals, destroy each others' defenses... and the XP would come rolling in. We'd level faster and get stronger with more practice.
So in a sense, this is just one example of how opposition strengthens us. This is why people spar when training to fight. This is why the military engages in wargames to hone the skills of the personnel.
That applies to us as Christians too, doesn't it? Christians tend to be at their best when in the minority, and when under attack from the outside. Just look at the things Christianity (or individual denominations) have done when persecuted. When the early Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians, their faith saved them from the scourges visited upon the land at the first Passover. When ancient Israel was conquered by the Babylonians, the Persians, the Romans... the faithful remained strong. When Rome was hunting Christians down in the early days, Christianity flourished in the Empire. It was small, yes... but incredibly strong. When Martin Luther took it upon himself to re-evaluate the doctrines he'd been taught, he was able to start up an entire movement of new, enthusiastic Christians. When Catholics and other groups were facing persecution in England, they moved across the Atlantic and ultimately founded the mightiest nation the world has ever seen. When Mormons were hunted and chased out of the U.S., they went west and founded a flourishing community in what was at the time Mexico, by the Great Salt Lake.
It reminds me of a scripture verse found in the Book of Mormon:
2 Nephi 2:11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
I know most Christians don't regard that verse as Scriptural but it does illustrate the way this works.
So don't despair as we go into an ever more hostile culture, my friends. We're still on the right side, and Heavenly Father won't leave us abandoned.