The tale of “Chicken Little” originated in European folklore as “Henny Penny”, in which a chick believes the sky is falling when an acorn falls on its head. The chick decides to tell the king, and on its journey, meets other animals to join the quest. Earliest versions end with the animals meeting a fox, who invites them to his lair to discuss the matter…and then he eats them all. More recent “sensitized” versions of this tale end with the sky really falling and the chick becoming a hero.
My first encounter with “Chicken Little…the sky is falling” type hysteria was over 50 years ago when I joined the SDA church in southern California. Camp meetings (then as now) were the pinnacle of joy in seeing old friends, but many evangelistic presenters “blasted” us all, because we were on the razor’s edge of total destruction and the imminent return of Jesus. I called them “white knuckle” sermons, because we tended to hang onto the pew in front of us out of amazement and fear… because the “sky was falling” and we needed to “get ready get ready” before the door of probation slammed in our face.
Some 50 years later now, those messages of imminent total destruction are primarily coming from the media (in great detail)… but not so much from our own pulpits. My wife Cheryl tells me that she grew up in the church with a steady diet and constant pounding of Chicken Little theology, so all these years later she feels completely led astray and numbed by it. This of course, is only my wife’s experience and perspective, but partly mine as well.
Many of those close to me have shared their frustrations and mostly failed efforts trying to reawaken the church in constructive ways, even in the face of imminent nuclear destruction. The focus on Jesus as our savior, creator, and character guide, the true source of all power, faith, hope, and love, needs to remain at our front and center. At the same time, we also must be patiently waiting… and in one accord… because the church will indeed reawaken and move forward at lightning speed, much as it did the first Pentecost, by the incredible overwhelming outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Chicken Little had it wrong, because with God in control… the best is yet to come.