You may be familiar with the illustration about the frog in the beaker. Put a frog in a beaker of cool water and it will be happy. If you begin to very slowly heat the water the frog will never even notice the change and will die before even attempting to jump out of the beaker. The frog simply isn’t aware of the water, nor of how the water is changing him.
Biologically speaking, the problem is that a frog is “cold blooded.” It simply takes on the temperature of its surroundings and has no independent standard for body temperature. People, like all mammals, are “warm blooded,” meaning that our bodies are equipped to maintain a very precise temperature. A fluctuation of just 2 or 3 degrees and we being to feel quite sick and only 8 or 10 degrees can be fatal. Our bodies have a standard by which we measure our surroundings and respond appropriately. Put me in a tub of warm water and I’ll be fine, but I’ll notice if you begin to heat the water, and I’ll climb out long before it gets hot enough to hurt me.
Unfortunately, we lack that absolute standard when it comes to the influence of our culture. It surrounds us, permeates us, and changes us, and, like the frog, we often don’t even notice the change. It is within my lifetime that Rob and Laura Petrie, on the Dick Van Dyke Show, didn’t even share a bed – a married couple in the same bed on prime time TV would be scandalous! I don’t need to point out how far we have moved!
Without consistent, sober and prayerful effort, we naturally take on the values and perspectives of the culture and people around us. Yet, our faith calls us to be different. To be distinct. Paul saw the danger of this and warned the Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Click here to read the full passage.)
The antidote Paul offers is that we be “transformed by the renewing of [our] minds.” That requires work. Study. Careful thought. Conversation. Support. Read your Bible. Study it with others. Pray that God would renew you!
This is one of the reasons we offer small group Bible studies, classes, etc. in the life of St. John’s. If you relax, you will find yourself conformed rather than transformed.
Where are you being conformed? What might transformation look like? If you are faithful in the attempt, God will renew you!
This column appeared in the August 27, 2023 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.