It’s such a great expression. I use it regularly: slippery slope.
Human beings have used it for centuries. Must be effective! Think of a “Slip-N-Slide” on the hill of Beaty Park where children go sledding in the winter. Or better yet, on a black diamond trail at Peek’n Peak. Water covering the surface. Or maybe some sort of gel. Difficult to stand up. A challenge to keep balance. Gravity pulls and you find yourself careening downward. That’s a slippery slope!
Used as a metaphor for life it means we find ourselves in circumstances that throw us off balance. That challenge our convictions about where we thought we were headed. That even rattle our faith and cause us to question if God intentionally placed the slippery slope in our path. And we all hit them. Sometimes we “crash and burn.” Or manage to land on our feet. But being challenged and rattled is seldom pleasurable. More often painful.
We can plan. Prepare. Equip ourselves. Wrap ourselves in prayer. And still we find ourselves on a particularly painful path and say, “I didn’t see that coming!” We’ve said that a lot since February, haven’t we? A pandemic. A vicious virus. Quarantines and closings. Restrictions and requirements. One big fat slippery slope.
Last Sunday in worship we considered the selfishness of Jacob who tricked his twin but firstborn brother out of his birthright. A huge case of “I Gotta Have.” Laying claim to what wasn’t his. Overstepping his bounds. We know about that. We find ourselves on that slippery slope fairly often. Here’s a really tricky example: wanting to tell someone else how to live his or her life. We don’t like what we see and we say so. Disagree with choices because they don’t line up with ones we would make. Are we being helpful or overstepping our bounds?
Also last Sunday in worship I received a text message from someone worshipping at home: “Yes, we have freedoms, but we HAVE to take care of each other.” So sometimes we do need to offer advice – or even intervene – in another person’s life if he or she appears headed for destruction or disaster. Or if she or he is vulnerable and in need of protection. Caring isn’t bullying but it may prompt us to speak with uncomfortable urgency. But how different it is to offer “Have you considered this possibility…?” rather than “What you need to do is…!” Sometimes the way we express ourselves can seem like opening a fire hose on a slippery slope!
God knows we struggle when we find ourselves on a slippery slope. God understands the frustrated fumbling and painful tumbling we experience. And not only in our own lives but as we care for and take care of others. So God offers encouragement with these inspired words:
God’s goal is for us to become mature adults – to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead other. Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does their part.”
As we navigate life’s slippery slopes, let’s remember that we have a responsibility for ourselves and response-ability toward others!