Jeremiah 5:26-31 NLT
“Among my people are wicked men who lie in wait for victims like a hunter hiding in a blind. They continually set traps to catch people. Like a cage filled with birds, their homes are filled with evil plots. And now they are great and rich. They are fat and sleek, and there is no limit to their wicked deeds. They refuse to provide justice to orphans and deny the rights of the poor. Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord. “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation? A horrible and shocking thing has happened in this land— the prophets give false prophecies, and the priests rule with an iron hand. Worse yet, my people like it that way! But what will you do when the end comes?”
Like many illnesses, sin is contagious. Worse yet when a nation or people group try to replace righteousness with blatant sin, that society becomes infected with a disease they don’t even realize they have until it’s too late.
This scripture reminded me of the story of the frog in a boiling pot. The boiling frog is a fable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is, if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water, which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.
Like a frog in a pot of water that is set to gradually boil, a culture that has made sin a normal part of their society, becomes comfortable and indifferent towards the eventual end they are headed to. As the water grows hotter and hotter or sin grows deeper and deeper those who are steeped in the mess are completely unaware of their dire condition. Those of us who have managed to understand what happens when the water gets too hot and have jumped out of the pot feel sometimes we can only look on with horror and confusion as we watch those we love and know float blissfully on into their delusional self-inflicted demise.
In passionate desperation, you can try to call out to warn those who have not yet realized what they have gotten into. Most of those that hear will mock and laugh at you for being a zealot. You can try to take matters into your own hands and turn down the heat for them, but they eventually will manage to find another pot just as dangerous that they can exclude you from. To them you are a bigot who is judgemental toward their lifestyle choices. To make matters worse, many other frogs in the pot will begin to fabricate persuasive arguments as to why living in the pot is the best for any frog who is self respecting and progressive. As for anyone who disagrees, well, they are just backwards, uneducated and oppressive to the enlightened free thinking frog. Ok enough of the frog and the boiling pot metaphor. At this point, you certainly understand the point. This scripture and metaphor of the frog, illustrates the same pandemic that has managed to destroy every civilization (aside from the Hebrews) since the beginning of time. Alas, it’s the same situation we find ourselves in today, amidst our modern American society. Although the situation is dire and predictable it doesn't have to end up the same way it has before. If you notice verse 29, God through the prophet Jeremiah asks a Life Group question, ``Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord. “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation? Why is God asking this question? As always it’s not because He lacks an answer. It’s because He is inviting people to engage with culture from the perspective of His heart. We know the heart and character of God is to care for and prosper His people. It is not to punish and tear down. Also, He will not give advantage to evil people who wish to oppress others in His name. So He asks a question, to invite those who are still listening to Him to partner with His solution. He is looking for a people who will not only see the dire consequences of living in idolatry and watch idly by from the outside of the pot. He is looking for people who will anguish as He does over the unexpecting souls that are being lost to a culture boiling over with sin, those who are willing to strategize with Him, and who are consumed by Holy Spirit. Also, people who are willing to jump head first into the hot water, full of faith, that even if they just save one or two it was worth whatever price they had to pay so those who would listen would not have to face the wrath of eternal separation from God.
Now, at this point you might be reading this while also thinking “sounds great and all, but you said it yourself. What's the point of jumping into the water if those you are trying to save won’t listen.``. That’s a great question. This is where partnering with God makes all the difference. You in your own power are a bag of hot air. You with anointing and power of Holy Spirit are a heavenly wrecking ball to the gates of hell. Simply understanding God’s heart and perspective changes everything in the way we engage humanity with the Gospel. In no way do I claim to be the best at evangelism. I love it, and my love for evangelism has led me to discover that it’s much easier to do. I am much more successful at it when I am sensitive to God's heart as I engage the unbelieving person in front of me. Partnering with God’s heart takes the pressure away, invites God’s presence, and makes the whole experience more pleasurable. Here are three things I remind myself, based on the scripture above, that helps me remember to connect to God’s heart as I witness to unbelievers.
God has a strategy and plan to reveal Himself to every unbelieving person and people group on earth. I realize this is a complete contradiction to predestination theology, but I also don’t care that it is. I believe every person, no matter how entrenched they are in disbelief, or no matter how far they have strayed in the world, is just one encounter with God’s love away from being saved and completely transformed.
I am fully capable and have everything I need through the power of the Holy Spirit to effectively witness to every person on the planet. Admittedly, it doesn't always feel like it, but the truth is that He who is in me, is greater than him who is in the world. I need to remind myself of this often, and then carry myself as such.
Finally, as pointed out by the last verse in the scripture above. Eternity is final and absolute. If I have a sober understanding of the reality of hell and separation from God, then I wouldn't wish that fate on anyone. Furthermore, I would be radically compelled to help anyone headed there to change their course.
I remind myself of these three points almost every time I do outreach, or approach anyone to share the gospel. While I most certainly am not perfect, and I definitely have much more to learn in my faith walk. I refuse to be a victim to or of culture, and not be bold to speak the glorious truth that has saved my soul.