“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10
I recently read an article by Rev. Steve Brown where he shares a parable (author unknown) about Felix the Flying Frog.
Once upon a time, there lived a man named Clarence who had a pet frog named Felix. Clarence lived a modestly comfortable existence on what he earned working at the Wal-Mart, but he always dreamed of being rich. “Felix!” he said one day, hit by sudden inspiration, “We’re going to be rich! I’m going to teach you to fly!”
Felix, of course, was terrified at the prospect. “I can’t fly, you twit! I’m a frog, not a canary!”
Clarence, disappointed at the initial response, told Felix: “That negative attitude of yours could be a real problem. We’re going to remain poor, and it will be your fault.”
So Felix and Clarence began their work on flying.
On the first day of the “flying lessons,” Clarence could barely control his excitement (and Felix could barely control his bladder). Clarence explained that their apartment building had 15 floors, and each day Felix would jump out of a window, starting with the first floor and eventually getting to the top floor. After each jump, they would analyze how well he flew, isolate the most effective flying techniques, and implement the improved process for the next flight. By the time they reached the top floor, Felix would surely be able to fly.
Felix pleaded for his life, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. “He just doesn’t understand how important this is,” thought Clarence. “He can’t see the big picture.”
So, with that, Clarence opened the window and threw Felix out. He landed with a thud…
Now this is not to say that Felix wasn’t trying his best. On the fifth day, he flapped his legs madly in a vain attempt at flying…he tied a small red cape around his neck and tried to think “Superman” thoughts. It didn’t help.
By the seventh day, Felix, accepting his fate, no longer begged for mercy. He simply looked at Clarence and said, “You know you’re killing me, don’t you?”
Clarence pointed out that Felix’s performance so far had been less than exemplary, failing to meet any of the milestone goals he had set for him.
With that, Felix said quietly, “[Be quiet] and open the window,” and he leaped out, taking careful aim at the large jagged rock by the corner of the building.
Felix went to that great lily pad in the sky.
Clarence was extremely upset, as his project had failed to meet a single objective that he had set out to accomplish…After much thought, Clarence smiled and said… “Next time, I’m getting a smarter frog!”
The world is full of people just like Clarence who are teaching and preaching a gospel of performance. The Clarences of the world tell us that good behavior earns God’s blessing. If we will only try harder, do better, and become more spiritual, then God will love us.
Instead of leading us to Jesus, the King of Grace, they lead us to the ledge and tell us we better learn to fly. If we don’t, God won’t love us. Nothing could be further from the truth.
They’ve taken the good news and made it bad news. Most Christians don’t realize that our good works can be just as much of a barrier to our Christian growth as our shameful sins. Over and over the Bible testifies about how the shameful sinners flocked to Jesus and not the self-righteous church-goers.
How about you? Have you realized that Jesus is better than being better? Do you know that Jesus loves even the worst of sinners?
Jesus Himself says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Won’t you come to Jesus?