Frog legs are a delicacy. Did you know that? Coming from the southern US, it was uncommon for me to travel far without seeing a sign that boasted “Best frog legs in the South!” So, what does boiling frogs have to do with the Word of God? Funny you should ask…
Pastor Dave and I (along with the missuses) were talking about things over lunch last Sunday. The topic, as always, was centered around the Word. The afternoon was spent in great conversation and good food, always a win-win in my book! Anyway, the subject of the spiritual state of the nation came up, and the deep concerns we have about the direction our country seems to be going. How could a nation, clearly founded under the influence of Christian thought and a Biblical worldview, depart so sharply from those precepts? How could a nation once proclaimed as a “city on a hill” fall so sharply away from the guiding principles of God and His Word? The answer to that question is what led to an analogy.
How do you cook a frog? If you drop a live frog into boiling water they will try to jump out! Instead, if you place the frog into tepid (lukewarm) water you can slowly raise the temperature until it’s too late for it to jump out. It’s cooked before it even knows what’s going on. Because there was no sudden, drastic change in environment the frog just gets comfortable in the ever-increasing heat. Pretty soon there is no escape, only certain death. As it is with the frog, so it is with people, Christians included.
Unrestricted compromise is one of Lucifer’s favorite strategies, if nothing else because it’s so successful. He discovered that sudden and drastic persecution (heat) is what caused the church to ‘jump out’ of the heat and right into the waiting arms of Christ. True believers stood strong, shared His Word and willingly followed the One Who purchased them! The ‘hotter’ the persecution was applied the fast the Word of God spread! Since then he has developed a much more effective tactic; allow for a slow deterioration of the commitment and principles we, as followers of Christ, hold on to.
It’s applied subtly at first. Constantine found that the old adage “If you can’t beat them, join them” was a great way to exert influence and control over something he had no control over. Tolerance for Christianity was a welcome relief from the heat of persecution, but it came with a price. Tolerance was proclaimed, but included everyone, regardless of their faith and – ultimately – their allegiance to God. Governmental institution of Christianity led to governmental control. Compromise gave way to acceptance, which is not the same thing! The truth became watered down, less ‘offensive’ and consequently less effective. Error entered in and eroded the power of God to change lives. Soon it was ‘just another religion’ among many.
Through the years believers have, understandably, tried to avoid the heat of persecution. We have modified our thoughts and actions to try and appease those who disagree with the truth (God’s Word). While somewhat (and temporarily) successful in reducing the heat of persecution for shamelessly proclaiming the Word of God, the church has found that adjusting our faith leads to a certain amount of compromise. The cry of tolerance and compromise has slowly become the mantra of the world. If you disagree with someone you obviously ‘hate’ them. You don’t want to ‘get along’ with others. If you, as a believer in Christ, dare to point out aberrant or sinful behavior you are immediately labeled a bigot, a hate-filled religious kook, etc.
Some believers give themselves over to a “let’s get along at any cost” mentality, claiming God will accept you just the way you are – there’s no need to change! Others take the polar opposite stance and become belligerent and antagonistic, ridiculing and belittling those who don’t know the truth. On one hand we are told that we shouldn’t ‘judge’ others for their actions, we should just let them do what they feel is right because “that is love.” On the other hand we have those who are more than happy to proclaim how lost you are, and that God has a big stick waiting to gleefully smack you to the ground and squash you like the bug they think you are.
Neither extreme is what Christ teaches, and each errant path leads to a distorted view of Who our Father truly is. While He is a God of love and mercy (He did send Jesus, didn’t He?), He is also holy and commands those who follow Him to be as He is. Holiness does not require obnoxiousness, it requires a heart submitted to His Word in love and respect. Love also provides a way out of the lifestyle of sin. That’s why they call it SALVATION. To be saved from something means you get delivered from whatever had you in peril, doesn’t it?
It’s interesting to note that when persecuted, the early church prayed primarily for one thing. It wasn’t for relief from trouble, although they surely wished for it. It wasn’t for acceptance by the world, but it would have been welcome. What was it that the early church prayed for? BOLDNESS. They didn’t ask for riches, power, influence or even peace. They didn’t ask if they could ‘get along’ with those who disagreed, or even hated, them. They did not compromise the truth of God’s Word, or the life that He had called them to live. What they did ask God for was that He would give them the boldness and inspiration they desperately needed to fearlessly proclaim the Person of Jesus Christ.
The church needs to wake up from the boiling pot of the world, and shirk off the lethargy and compromise that has crippled the sharing of God’s message. The same message shared by the Apostles and early church is the same message God wants us to share today; Jesus is alive! He doesn’t simply ‘accept’ those who come to Him in honesty and sincerity, He transforms them.
If we refuse to boldly speak for Christ we make ourselves like the frog in tepid water. We simply wait around thinking all is well when – in reality – we are just waiting to die.