“You can become like a frog in a kettle”, an ex-CIA employee told me as we sipped coffee several months ago. We were discussing what can happen if you live in a dangerous place but don’t realize your situation’s getting increasingly dangerous. “Of Gods and Men”, a 2010 movie about French monks kidnapped in the North African country of Algeria in 1996, makes the same point. For them, the end was tragic as they were beheaded by a radical Islamic group.
Well, our focus at AFM is on some parts of the world that are at times quite dangerous. Not all places, just some. And one of the issues we face is how to help missionaries not to be fooled into thinking everything’s just hunky-dory when, in reality, it’s not. It got me thinking about the physical, emotional and spiritual ways we can become like a frog in a kettle:
- Physical: What we breathe, eat, drink, and so on can impact us physically more than we might realize. One example is what we eat. In the New York Times best-seller, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (2013), Michael Moss reports that each day we consume the equivalent of 22 teaspoons of sugar, 8,500 milligrams of salt and 0.2 lbs of cheese. The economic cost of our health and obesity crisis caused by this is nearly $300 billion per year. We can sit passively, keep on keeping on, or we can make changes in our diet.
- Emotional: Who we live, work, play and pray with may influence us in profound ways. Some are wonderfully positive, but others less so. Perhaps many of us know a situation where an alcoholic recovers from her addiction only to face the wrath of a friend or family member who’d been ‘taking care’ of her for many years. Giving love to get love or using self-sacrifice as a means to control others can be a subtle, yet destructive, emotional trait.
- Spiritual: The term “rice Christians” was common way back when, but perhaps we could coin an equivalent like “junk food Christians” for believers today in the Global North. If we are what we eat spiritually, then how nutritious is our intake? If man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God, then just how much Word do we consume each day? And how much from our personal devotions or Sunday worship services is milk rather than solid food (Hebrews 5:13-14)?
My ex-CIA acquaintance told me you need up to date, real time, situation awareness to avoid becoming like a frog in a kettle. You also need to think ahead about what steps you’d take to escape danger. That’s a bit dramatic, but maybe there are parallels here for our own lives. Jesus is concerned not only with our souls, but also with our bodies and our emotions. Question: How can tell you’re not becoming a frog in a kettle physically, emotionally, or spiritually?