“I recall that after my first year in Africa in a location where we had no TV access, I came home and was shocked by what my Christian friends were watching on TV. By the end of that home assignment about a year later, I was amazed by what I was watching.”
This is part of an email I received the other day. It reminded me of how careful I must be to avoid becoming that legendary frog in the pot. This is the stupid amphibian who, when placed in a container of room-temperature water over a gas burner, does not perceive that he is being cooked—the death happens oh so gradually.
Continuing the water metaphor, let us bear in mind that in a sense a fish does not know water. “How?” you ask, “the fish is completely surrounded by water.” That is precisely the answer: The fish is completely surrounded by water. It becomes nigh impossible to continue to “see” something that you are totally immersed in. If your house is full of clutter, you will soon not be aware of the clutter. (Your neighbor will see it, but you won’t.) If you tape a note on your fridge as a reminder of a doctor’s appointment, I suggest you don’t do it too far ahead; after a few days you will not see it anymore.
In my early 20s I hitchhiked around the country until I got homesick and decided to hitchhike back. As I rode in the direction of New England, my heart was full of longing for “my people” and for “home.” Upon arrival, I was stunned and disappointed to see how unfriendly New Englanders were. I had just spent a month meeting hospitable Southerners and Midwesterners and had forgotten that in the part of the country I grew up in, strangers do not wave or greet each other.
And so it sometimes takes leaving your familiar country and life for a season to enable you to see your country and life with a clearer eye. This is what my email correspondent found. Let us make a habit of examining our practices and preferences against the Word of God, our only sure guide. We may be surprised to find how far we have drifted from the plumb line of righteousness, and how close we have come to being “cooked.”