Jonathan's Perspective  

Feb 19

'The Church of the Boiled Frogs'

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Eph 6:10-11)

Frogs are interesting critters. They have tremendously fast reflexes; it’s hard to get near a frog without it seeing you first and jumping away or diving below the surface. Those reflexes have been honed over millennia. When it senses danger, it reacts to survive – no hesitation. In fact, all it takes is one frog sensing danger to jump and the rest will jump too. A frog is built to escape. I’m told that if a frog is captured and thrown into boiling water, its escape reflexes will ‘kick in’. It will live to eat bugs another day. 

However, a frog cannot escape unperceived danger. If a predator slips through undetected, it is a goner. At a certain point, it is just too late to escape. The worst is when there is something ever so slightly wrong with the water. The frog is so used to being in water and can’t conceive of it as dangerous. Put a frog in a pot of tepid water and it will calmly float there. If you turn up the heat slowly by slowly over time, the frog will die without having noticed it was in peril.

My mother-in-law once said, ‘I’m afraid we are becoming the church of the boiled frogs.’ It struck me as eerily funny. Every era and culture has contained its own dangers for Christians. Some situations are obviously hostile. Totalitarian empires and atheistic nations have proudly put to death Christians for following a different God; for having different values. When the stakes are high and the differences stark – like in many African countries where Christianity is rapidly growing – there are no accidental Christians. They know they are under constant threat and the line between faithfulness and unfaithfulness is neon. 

Our situation is different. The danger has not been so obvious. I am not a ‘good-ol’-days’ kind of guy; I recognize that the United States has not always practiced Christian values. There have been cultural pressures that have slightly boiled the American church – racism, sexism, materialism, and lack of concern for the poor. However, there has been a shift away from an historically broad cultural encouragement of Christian life. The shift has been slow, but steady---with the danger nearly imperceptible. Many Christian virtues have fallen out of fashion. Some are seen as antiquated or odd. Belief in the One God and Jesus as the Way, Truth and Life no longer sits well in mixed company. That belief has the unique privilege of being ridiculed as both extreme arrogance and extreme naiveté. The temperature rises. 

We need to take care so that the slowly heating pot doesn’t addle our minds, morality, and spirit. Together, we can rediscover in Scripture the lines between faithfulness and faithlessness, truth and deception, grace and license, love and lust, God’s law and legalism. The only way to escape the danger and avoid being the church of the boiled frogs is to Fully Rely On God - to ‘be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power’. In the end there are only two kinds of frogs – the quick and the dead. I’m glad we have each other to stay alert and stay alive. 

Blessings,

Jonathan

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