Be my rock of refuge [strength], a fortress of defense to save me
~ Psalms 31:2
Christ once told His disciples a parable, saying, “He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock” (Luke 6:48-49).
Long-time Christians like to latch on to scriptures like this. We picture Satan attacking in dramatic ways, provoking equally grand gestures of faith—turning down a job for the Sabbath, telling the truth though it will damage us, staying faithful despite being ostracized at school for being different. Many of us like to imagine that, if put in a “deny God or die” scenario, we would maintain our faith and face the consequences. And perhaps we’re right.
But the reality is that many of us won’t face such a drastic situation, and even if we do, it will be once or twice in our lifetimes. So we think we’ve got it made since we built our house on the rock, a solid foundation that will stand the test of time. And it’s true, the foundation we build upon is critical to our success.
But what if it’s the rock itself that becomes the problem?
Erosion: The process by which something is diminished or destroyed by degrees. To eat into, or to eat away by slow destruction of substance, to deteriorate
I once read an article about a famous historical lighthouse at Cape Henlopen, Delaware. The lighthouse was critical to the Philadelphia shipping industry, and they took excellent care of it for many years. It weathered storms and hurricanes, providing light and safe passage to the ships coming through. But it took them decades to realize that the cliff it had been built on—its very foundation—was eroding. One day, before they could work out a solution for saving it, a storm rolled through and the giant lighthouse fell into the sea.
We are told to build our spiritual house on a rock, and most of us take that admonition very seriously. There is no doubt that the Rock in question is God the Father and His Son. There are dozens of verses in the Psalms alone that reference Him this way (e.g. Psalms 31:2, 92:15). It’s obviously critical that what we build upward and visibly is made of quality materials, and that we build on the solid foundation, the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20; I Cor. 3:11).
But we often forget that the foundation itself has to be maintained over time. And so what happens is that the daily grinding effects of life—of temptations, worries, pressures, envies, discouragements—these are what wear us down little by little, day by day. Until one day we, too, crumble and fall.
It’s important to understand that when this happens, it’s not God or His power that has eroded. That simply isn’t possible. Rather, it’s Him as our foundation—because we allow it and we don’t maintain it. We may appear to be weathering the storm, but underneath our foundation is being eaten away, and one day we’ll slide off into the ocean or crumble beneath the weight of what we’ve built.
What is spiritual erosion?
Spiritual erosion is slow, silent, and subtle. Like physical erosion, it starts imperceptibly, and the daily familiarity of routine keeps us from seeing it in ourselves or even those close to us. A person will usually keep doing the same things they’ve always done, like keeping the Sabbath, asking people how their week was at church, deleavening the house, and attending the Feast. Many Christians still attend church long after their faith is gone, because we’re creatures of habit.