By Ronnie McBrayer
A few years ago my son Braden and I rescued a frog in our garage. We talked about the frog’s warts, his strong legs, and bulging eyes. After the brief science lesson, we set him free. Braden followed his new friend around the yard for a half hour. He tried to catch it, pet it, and steer it. But the frog wouldn’t oblige.
In frustration Braden lurched forward and crushed the little fellow beneath his foot. I was horrified! I demanded of him, “Why did you do that?” His answer was telling and simple: “Because he wouldn’t listen to me.”
Some of us think that God is a lot like Braden. If you don’t stay one step ahead of him, leaping quickly from his crushing blow, God will maliciously scrub you into the dust. God will eventually catch up to you and squash you for every evil act ever committed, every wrong thought that has crossed your mind, and for every missed Sunday service.
Maybe it stems from an anxious childhood or from bad religious experiences, but we all too often see God for less than he is. We view him as some kind of irritated old school master keeping a ledger of our sins—an Ebenezer Scrooge. Or we think of him as a vindictive bully—a cosmic Simon Cowell—one who only lets the best get by, but only after a severe tongue lashing. Sure, a few will make it through the pearly gates, but God will be none too happy about it.
Or we may imagine God, sitting in a high and mighty palace somewhere, breathing threats and intimidation just waiting for someone to cross the line, to be noncompliant, so he can squash them like a bug. Or frog. Is this who God is? If you believe some religious extremists, certainly this is accurate. But this is not the God revealed to us by the person of Christ. Jesus reveals a God who loves with such passion that he was willing to drive nails into his own flesh to set free those living in darkness.
And by the way, I don’t think Braden will turn out to be an axe murderer after all. Thankfully, a day later our family paused to say grace over our evening meal. When it was Braden’s turn to pray, he bowed and said: “Dear Jesus…I killed a frog.” All was forgiven.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author. His books include “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus” and “The Jesus Tribe.” Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.