Over the years I have spent a lot of time in public playgrounds and I have noticed something significant. The natural reaction of almost every child over the age of two is to try to climb up the slide. No matter that everyone else is sliding down, they want to go up the hard way. I admit that I am sometimes the same way with the escalators in the malls. I want to go, as the old book title put it, up the down staircase.
It is encouraging to see these "up the slide" people. They are the people Jesus wants to follow him. "Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 19:14) Maybe he had seen children going up the slide and recognized a characteristic of those who would obey him.
Going up the slide is not easy. I have seen two year olds that manage to get one big step up before sliding down. As they get older, stronger, smarter, they get farther up the slide. Sometimes they lose their grip or tire out and slide back down, but they keep trying. Then comes that triumphant day when they make it to the top! What sense of accomplishment. What elation! What joy!
Christianity is an upslide climb. "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matt 7:14) "And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30, emphasis mine)
Jesus warned in Luke 14:25-35 that following him could involve some loss in this world. He offered the advice that one should count the cost before beginning to follow him, as a builder projects the cost of a tower. I have known individuals who actually had to forsake mother and father to follow Christ; who were treated as if dead by their families because of their obedience to the Lord. Theirs was truly a climb up a particularly slippery slide.
The easiest thing when going up the slide or up the down escalator is just to quit. You don't have to worry about staying in the same place. You will reach a destination, and with no effort at all. The problem is, you end up right where you started. You will have expended energy and gone nowhere.
That is just what Satan wants in our spiritual climb. He doesn't have to tempt us with a "serious" sin. All he has to say is, "let go." Satan knows that if we stop climbing, if we decide just to let go of the sides of the slide, that we will slide back down into his grasp. I frequently see kids playing tag. One might try to get away by going up the slide, but can't make it to the top. The child who is "it" doesn't need to climb up to tag them. He just has to wait for the other one to quit going up. Well, Satan is waiting.
Are you going to go down the slide to Satan, or up the slide against him?