We've all heard the modern-day parable of the frog in the kettle. If we drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will immediately jump out, alert to the danger. However, if we drop that same frog into a pot of warm water and slowly turn up the heat, it will comfortably soak in the pot until it eventually boils to death.
Why the different result? Because the immediate environment (the pot of water) gradually changes from safe to unsafe conditions. When conditions change gradually, the frog is deceived by the slow, incremental rise in temperature. Like the frog, we are all susceptible to gradual deception. Our senses are dulled.
Many of the latest "advancements" in western society are akin to turning up the flame on the stove. So how will we avoid boiling to death? Here are two strategies I use:
Drop a Historical Figure into the Pot
Drop a historical figure into the pot and see if he jumps out. It goes something like this:
Imagine we drop Walter Cronkite into 2021 America. We hand him our smartphone, and he reads various news sites. Is he impressed by the repeated spelling errors and grammatical mistakes he reads? No. Is he amenable to the polar representation of events by established media outlets? No. Does he endorse the current brand of journalism that presents the news in partisan, agenda-driven ways? No. He will jump out of our pot.
Imagine we drop Martin Luther King, Jr. into 2021 America. Will he commend riotous protests? No. Will he segregate Americans into groups based on the color of their skin to determine societal privileges, independent of individual character or merit? No. Will he oppose the use of the word colorblind to describe the motive of a person's heart to treat all people equally (as Critical Theory opposes this word)? No. He will jump out of our pot.
Imagine we drop Martin Luther (the theologian) into 2021 America. Will he agree with the 52% of evangelicals who state "people are basically good"? No. Will he commend the 51% of evangelicals who say "God accepts the worship of all religions"? No. Will he agree with the 78% who view Jesus as "the first and greatest being created by God the Father"? No! He will lead another reformation. He will jump out of our pot.
Imagine we drop Moses (the law recorder) into 2021 America and catch him up on the morals of our day. Will he evolve his thinking to commend gay marriage and gay sexual activity? No. (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). Will he agree that each person can define his or her own gender, perhaps along a spectrum? No. (Gen. 1:27). He will jump out of our pot.
Imagine we drop Paul (the apostle) into 2021 America. Will he jettison his missionary journeys (proclaiming the gospel) to ensure social justice initiatives go forward? No. Will he prioritize personal safety over obedience to Scripture? No. He will jump out of our pot.
Imagine we drop Jesus into 2021 America. What will he do? He'll take the pot of boiling water and pour it over our heads, hopeful we'll wake up from our delusion.
Is our pot of water warming to a boil? (In the US, perhaps our pot of water would be better depicted as a hot tub?)
Before you toss me out the door as a heretic, hear me out. This is a ploy I've used when speaking, to help an audience apprehend the intensity and veracity of Scripture. (Sometimes the only way to wake a frog is to startle him!)
So, in the middle of a talk I've been known to purposely misquote Scripture to arrest an audience's attention. Something like this:
- Jesus said "The greatest commandment is this: to love the Lord your God with half your heart, half your soul, half your mind and half your strength." (Mark 12:30). Then, I pause. Let the audience feel the discomfort. Let them jump out of the pot.
- Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will make it even harder for you ... for my yoke is difficult and my burden is heavy." (Matthew 11:28-30)
- Paul said, "And we know that God causes a few things to work out for good, to those who love him and are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
You get the idea. Negating a promise of God brings it into sharp relief with truth, so our minds can (once again) contemplate the enormity of what is being said! I fear I (we) get so used to God's promises that they no longer hold any power. We are frogs, warming in the steam, oblivious to God's truth.
So, do you want out of the pot?
A Biblical "Out-of-the-Pot-Jumper"!
Finally, an example from the OT book of Nehemiah. God's people are suffering in Jerusalem. The wall around the city is knocked down and the temple destroyed. The non-Israelite population prevents Israel from rebuilding their lives (physically and spiritually). Yet, not one local Israelite decides to lead the charge to rebuild. Why? They're all warming up in their hot tubs. Meanwhile, 1,000 miles away, Nehemiah hears the same news and jumps out of the pot. He does five things that no one else does:
- He sits down.
- He weeps.
- He mourns.
- He fasts.
- He prays.
The lesson: while others sleep, Nehemiah weeps. While others 'boil to death,' Nehemiah will toil with each breath ... to rescue dying frogs. He travels 1,000 miles to lead the rebuilding effort of God's people.
Let's be about the business of waking sleeping frogs, perhaps including ourselves. Let's get out of the pot, before it's too late.