Hole In the Ground
Originally scheduled for March 20
Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration has a
rather unique problem. They are responsible not only for the safety
of miners in an active mine, but also for those intrepid fools who
decide to explore an abandoned mine.
It’s not hard
to list the dangers of exploring such a place. The gas in such an
old hole may not be breathable — but it might be explosive. You can
drown; they are often filled with water. You can simply step into
them and drop several hundred feet. The walls can collapse; you can
fall onto old rusty machinery; very often you’ll find some old and
rather unstable explosives in them. And if that’s not sufficient for
you, rattlesnakes love the place.
So you would
think that persuading people to keep out of them would be easy. It’s
not. As the government has discovered, such a mine is “alluring,
mysterious and intriguing.”
government’s problem is not a new one; it goes back to the beginning
of human history. The oldest lie recorded in human history is simply
this: evil is enlightening. Think of the things you’ll find down
there! After all, you are strong and confident; you can handle any
trouble that will come along. There it is: evil seems to be
alluring, mysterious and intriguing — and with no downside. Not even
Evil may seem
enlightening, but it’s the truth that will set you free. That’s one
of the reasons we have been given communion. It starts with the fact
that we are all sinners. The myth of the superbly confident, “I can
handle anything” kind of Christian is just that: a myth. You think
not? If we are not all sinners in need of a Savior, why would you
There is more
to it than that. A mine is something that’s easy to get in and often
hard to get out of. Communion is parallel to this; it reminds you
that sin is something that’s easy to get in to and hard to leave.
Indeed, our sin is forgiven at the price of Christ on the Cross;
neither cheap nor easy. In taking communion you are reminded of who
you really are: a sinner, saved by grace.
So as you
partake this morning, examine yourself. Is there something that’s
alluring, mysterious and intriguing in your life? Are you working up
the self-justification to say that you can handle it? Remember, you
are a sinner saved by grace. An abandoned mine looks very much like
a hole in the ground and nothing more. Sin often looks enlightening.
If it really was enlightening you would not need forgiveness. Grace
reminds us that we have something for which to be grateful — and
something else which we need to continue to avoid.