Beware the Slope!

The slippery slope of Stone Mountain

The slippery slope of Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain is full of warning signs. “Do not cross the fence!” “200 foot falls ahead. Fatalities have occurred here. Use extreme caution!” “Injury or death possible. Stay on the marked trail!”

A few years ago, I read the heart-wrenching story of a hiker who, ignoring the warning signs, went over the safety fence at sunset on Stone Mountain in Georgia. An ‘independent thinker’ and experienced rock climber, this individual somehow felt that the rules did not really apply to him. He often crossed such fences. However, at a certain point, as the slope increased, he slipped in the near darkness and the laws of physics took over. The hiker slid helplessly down the smooth rock face, rapidly accelerating in speed as the slope became steeper and steeper until over the cliff he fell. Park officers found his body at the foot of the mountain the next morning.

Gradual slopes are deceptive. In our ignorance and arrogance, we as humans sometimes cross God-ordained boundaries and push the ‘safety limits’ to our own peril. How far can a Christian leader go into selfishness, carelessness, presumption, heresy, egocentric ministry, greed, idolatry, and/or immorality (i.e., sin and rebellion) before the slope becomes too steep and the slide to destruction begins? The same is true for government leaders. How far can government officials go into pride, dishonesty, deception, corruption, ineptness, indifference to the people, and even oppression before things reach a point of no return?

God is merciful; and He has made a way for us to be fully reconciled to Him in Jesus Christ. He has also established ‘safety fences’ – his moral and ethical laws, his guidelines in scripture – the points beyond which the slope becomes dangerous and the ‘death slide’ begins. We are fools to ignore these. History is replete with stories of church leaders, government officials, business people, entertainers, and nations who thought themselves immune to the laws of God, the guidelines of scripture,  and the natural consequences of sin. God is merciful and gracious. Nonetheless, when a church leader, individual, or nation perpetually ignores his voice and seeks to live on the other side of the safety barrier, all that remains is the slope and the fall. Even then, God reaches out to help the fallen. However, sometimes that fall is fatal….

Ask yourself a question. On which side of the fence are you?