Seduction, the Frog, and the Death of Sunday

“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field the LORD God had made.”      Genesis 3:1a  (KJ21)

You have probably heard of the frog in the pot – the poor, unsuspecting creature relaxing in a pot of cool water, thinking all is well. If the water suddenly turned hot, it would jump out and save itself. But since the water is heated very gradually over the stove, the cold-blooded critter just keeps adapting. Finally, the water begins to boil, and it can no longer adapt, because it is now dead.

I have heard this analogy related to America and some of the obvious evils of our time. But I haven’t seen much attention paid to a more subtle onslaught of things that would not necessarily be called “evil,” but can take a more prominent place than they should in our lives. When certain things – even good things – take precedence over the things of God, it’s time to take a serious look at our priorities.

When I was growing up, most Americans went to church on Sundays, and the ones who didn’t usually had Sundays set aside for family. The people running the schools wouldn’t have dreamed of scheduling anything on a Sunday.

If Congress were to pass a law making it illegal to attend church in America, with serious penalties attached, I’m guessing there would be a massive outcry from the Christian community. (This is why this hasn’t happened.)

But today something more subtle is taking place in certain regions, in stages that go something like this:

1. “Yes, we’ll have occasional practices on Sundays, but they’ll always be at 1:00 P.M., so it won’t interfere with church.” (No one objects.)

2. “So, practices at 1:00 on Sundays seem to be working well with everyone, so we’re going to do that every week during the season.” (Again, no objections.)

3. “There will be a few games this season on Sundays, but don’t worry, they’ll be in the afternoons.” (Still, no objections.)

4. “Since Sunday’s game is out of town, please be at the school at 10:45 A.M. The bus is leaving at 11:00.” (Parents think, Oh well, it’s just this once.) (Care to take a guess as to whether this will be just a one-time thing?)

And the frog sits in the pot, while church pews and Sunday school seats are collecting dust. We can’t blame the world – it’s just doing what the world does. If Christians aren’t speaking up, why would anyone else turn off the stove?

When I see kids who have been absent from church and tell them we missed them, there’s a tendency to shrug and say, “I had a game,” as if the choice had been a no-brainer. They haven’t consciously chosen sports over God; if you were to ask them what is more important, they would say “God” without hesitation. But when it comes to time commitment, other activities seem to be the nonnegotiable every time.

What frustrates me when there are five leaders and two kids at Sunday school or youth group, is not the kids that are missing. It’s the complicity of the parents, who drive them to their meetings, practices, and games, but can’t manage to bring them to a church function. And when one child has an activity that is using the family transportation, that often means none of his/her siblings will be at church, either, even if they want to be. What kind of message are we sending the next generation, when God is relegated to the back burner week after week?

What is the frog’s (child’s) perspective over time?

1. “My family always goes to church on Sunday, unless we’re sick or there’s an emergency.”

2. “My family usually goes to church on Sunday, unless something else comes up.”

3. “Sometimes my family goes to church Sunday, if there’s nothing else going on.”

4. “My family sometimes goes to church on Christmas Eve and Easter.”

I can hear cries of “Legalism!” coming from some corners. And I have read on other blogs, “Do we have to go to church to worship God?” And the answer is, no, of course not. But a huge part of worship is obedience. God’s Word repeatedly stresses how important we are to one another. Understand, He needs nothing from us, but we need to be together, to experience the joy of corporate worship, to pray for and with one another, and to study the Bible together. (Studying it alone makes it too easy to go off onto some personal tangent and away from the Author.) Besides, how many of us will really worship, pray, and study Scripture consistently, independent of others?

If you are imprisoned in solitary confinement for believing in Jesus (a very real scenario in many places), then God will honor whatever fellowship you have with Him. He will certainly meet you where you are. But if there’s ample opportunity to get together with other believers as He has told us to do, to be encouraged and strengthened by them – not to mention the encouragement they need from you – and you blatantly choose not to participate, don’t be surprised if somewhere down the road you may be thinking, I just don’t feel as close to God as I used to. And the enemy of your soul will use that as an excuse not to believe at all.

And the frog dies.

While Christians in other countries risk their freedom, their livelihood, and their very lives to gather with the faithful, why are American Christians so blase about practicing their faith? Believers in other parts of the world would give their right arm to be able to fellowship, study the Bible, worship, and pray freely with fellow believers. What would they say about our preoccupation with extracurricular activities while “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”? (Hebrews 10:25)

The schools have our children six days a week. Why do they need access to them on Sundays, too? I wonder (in my fantasy world) what would happen if at the beginning of the semester every church-going Christian parent in America were to say (politely), “My child would very much like to participate in __________, but we go to church on Sunday morning, and the rest of the day we are together as a family, so (s)he won’t be able to participate on Sundays.”?

I’m guessing we’ll never know.

Okay, parents, prove me wrong.

Prayer: Lord, You are my life – the first, the last, and everything in between. Let my actions and choices show it. Please reveal to me anything that I am knowingly or unknowingly putting ahead of you, and deliver me from subtle idolatry. In Jesus’ name, amen.

23 thoughts on “Seduction, the Frog, and the Death of Sunday

  1. Wow…another eye opener. I also remember when games and practices weren’t scheduled on Sundays but now it happens regularly. Another sign of the world pulling away from God.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Excellent scripture choice at the onset. The subtly of chipping away, bit by bit, layer by layer until suddenly we’re outside looking in, instead of inside looking out, left wondering how we got there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with your point. Though, I have recently come to realize that since the Sabbath is on the seventh day, that means that we have been keeping a first day Sunday Sabbath. Saturday is the seventh day and the true Sabbath.
    But it is sad that people don’t ever keep the first day Sabbath, as they know it to be.
    Pray.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As I understand it, Christians changed it to the first day, because that was the day of Jesus’ Resurrection. The point is that the secular world has been eroding away at the sacred territory of Jews AND Christians (and families), because we’ve been letting it happen.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Christians at one time observed sabbath AND the Lord’s day. But over time, Christians stopped observing the Jewish sabbath with their nonChristian Jewish neighbors, as they were increasingly unwelcome, and as more and more gentiles joined the movement, the rhythm of the Jewish sabbath became less and less habitual. Kind of another illustration of your point.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for the reminder of the frog analogy. It’s an old one but still relevant. It seems we are the only ones who know its meaning. But by the grace of God go I. Without His presence and constant leading I would not be in church or in the center of His will. It is a struggle that none of us can weather alone. Fellowship within the church cannot be put aside for the things of the world. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “We can’t blame the world – it’s just doing what the world does. If Christians aren’t speaking up, why would anyone else turn off the stove?” Very astute observation. Much of God’s action or lack of action is bound up to his “partnering” with his people. “If my people…” he says. Great and bold post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is great. I think it’s so sad that now even this once very important time set aside for Jesus is being tossed aside. The relationship with the Lord is becoming for many, more and more of a “just going through the motions” rather than actually making a conscious effort of participation in a real relationship. The joy is lost and we are turning away from our first love.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This resonates with me. I wrote about a similar topic not long ago. Not so much the gradual slide away but the tendency to think, “I can worship God without going to church” and the inherent danger within that. It’s got a goofy title – “Analog Interaction in a Digital World” – which I really only touched on at the very end. It’s a huge topic… But I know our God is much more huge!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good post. It is such a difficult thing. I grew up wrestling. Often times the tournaments were on Sundays. I still went to church when I wasn’t wrestling, and some youth leaders really invested in me by coming to a match and caring about what I cared about.
    Now I am raising a young girl who loves soccer. She is competively natured and we want to give her the opportunities we had. I think when a tournament comes up on Sunday and we make a stand that they can’t play, then that doesn’t win them over. It is legalism.
    At the same time you have to set boundaries and make worship commitments too so that you nurture that realationship with God. At this point, this isn’t a real issue yet, and our little girls loves Jesus and church, but this is one of those things that always has to be looked at and reevelatuated. Good post. I like the frog. Thank you for talking about difficult things.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It IS so hard! I am reminded of the movie “Chariots of Fire” and Eric Liddell, who refused to run on Sunday – then got a gold medal in an event he had never run before. It’s hard to draw the line between conviction and legalism. It takes much prayer and an awareness of God’s will for your life, as well as the subtle seduction of the enemy.
    It’s also hard to feel like you’re the only one struggling with this. I suggest like-minded parents get together and talk to the “powers that be” about keeping Sunday activities to a minimum. You may find some power in numbers, but just be aware, the world is still the world.
    American believers don’t seem to teach their children much about sacrifice. I plan to post a story soon about a sacrifice my daughter made in high school, and what transpired. When I do, feel free to share with your daughter. 🙂

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  10. The thing is, there’s no particular reason why church HAS to be on a Sunday. It could be on Saturday, or Friday, or any time. The question is: what will help people connect with God and one another? [And sadly – team sports is clearly much more connecting for some kids, and some parents, than anything those kids and parents get at church.] If the priority for the Christian community were to have fellowship with soccer moms and their kids, the community could solve that problem by meeting those people where they are, rather than where they are not. Different people would be being asked to change their practices, though. [Honestly, it feels easier to me, personally, to cut the soccer moms loose; I don’t want to go to church on Saturday night. But darn, I hate it when I think of things that just remind me of how far I have to go to actually care about people!]

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There are so many things we CAN do – but WILL we? I’ve heard people say, “I don’t need to go to church. I can worship God at home.” But how many actually do that consistently?
    It used to be easy to get to church on Sunday (or harder to come up with excuses not to) because society recognized Sunday as a day off for the general population. I doubt it would be any easier to go to church on Friday night or Saturday (when most of the high school football games are) or any other day or night. The point of my complaint is that the world wants to take over our lives, seven days a week, and sooner or later we need to make the choice of just what our priorities are. It’s a great idea to take the gospel to the soccer moms and football dads – I think Jesus wants us to do that! But if we aren’t gathering as the Body of Christ to strengthen and encourage one another, we’re going to run out of steam pretty fast. I suspect we’ll become more like them than the other way around.
    So, yes, meet on Friday, or Saturday, whatever works. But decide that being part of the Body of Christ takes priority over being part of a sports team that will disband in a few months. If we can’t do that, where will we be when real persecution starts? If believers in other countries are giving up their lives for the gospel, surely we can pass up some extracurricular stuff.

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