The well known radio Bible teacher, Chuck Swindoll, tells the story of a rock climber who climbed several hundred feet up the face of a cliff. At a certain point in his climb he came to a place where he could just reach up and get his fingers on the edge of a ledge so that he could pull himself up to a resting place. However, as he pulled his head up so that he could see the ledge, a rattlesnake struck with blinding speed. Fortunately, the fangs did not pierce his neck where the snake struck. Also fortunately, the fangs became entangled in his garment around his neck. In a panic most of us have never known, the climber grabbed the snake just behind its head to keep it from disentangling itself and striking again. But this meant that he was hanging precariously by one hand over several hundred feet of open space, with only rocks below. Imagine his panic: the snake is tangled in his garment, and the rocks await him below.
Jesus once said (in Matthew 21:44): "And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." In so saying, He put before us two terrible options--much like the climber's options. The climber could let go of the snake (and get bitten) to keep from falling upon the rocks below, or he could wrestle with the snake (and fall when his one-handed strength gave out). With Jesus, the options are to fall on the rock and be broken, or have the rock fall on us and grind us to powder.
What did Jesus mean? To know the answer we have to understand that He was talking about the human predicament of dealing with the reality of God's judgment. The judgment of God upon every man who does not repent is for God (Jesus is the stone of which He speaks) to fall upon him and grind him to powder (a metaphor for the total destruction of every good thing about life). But, to come to repentance, a man must fall upon the rock and be broken (a metaphor for the difficulty of coming face to face with our sinfulness and being willing to have our pride broken into pieces). What options!
In several articles (119) we have addressed the issue of church attendance. This article addresses that issue in that one of the most difficult and humiliating things many of us are called upon to face is the fact that our life-long religious, or irreligious, life has been lived apart from the truth about God. Most of us have been practicing religion in churches that do not honor the Word of God as the final statement of Truth, and, as a consequence, we find ourselves hanging by one hand between the rock below and the snake entangled in our clothes. Would you rather release the snake to retain your grip? Or would you let go of your grip on the ledge and fall on the rock and be broken?
Jesus won't let anyone into heaven whose practice of religion refuses to allow him to fall on the Rock and be broken. If we refuse to fall, He will fall upon us in the Day of Judgment and grind us to powder.
Not appealing options, to be sure, but there are worse things than being broken and having to heal. Things like being ground to powder so there is no healing.