I’ve been watching videos on YouTube of urban explorers who were willing to take the risk of not just trespassing into long forgotten buildings and houses but also posting their experiences on YouTube. Many of the videos are shot just miles from my house in Detroit, which is considered by many to be an urban explorer’s Disneyland. Some of the videos are pretty eerie, especially this time of year when spooky is on the menu. Abandoned hospitals, houses and military facilities stand (just barely sometimes) as markers of our history, mistakes and failures. As you can guess, none of the buildings were closed and left to ruins for positive reasons.
Throughout all the videos there is at least one thing in common; a phenomenon commonly referred to as ‘natural decay’. This not only includes the eventual demise of the structure as it rots due to lack of maintenance but it also includes nature re-claiming its former territory. Where men once tore down trees and leveled the land to make room for their mansions, nature has returned to reclaim its right to ownership. As Jesus put it “Do not store up treasure on Earth where moth and rust destroy… (See Matthew 6:19).
This process of natural decay usually begins slowly but it’s interesting that the only reason it is initiated in the first place is because nobody fought to maintain the property any longer. Although I can’t do a whole lot of urban exploration myself because it would not be physically safe for me, I have experienced some level natural building decay in an old church building our youth group played a role in restoring on a summer mission trip. It didn’t take too long for things to fall apart, water damage, plaster walls crumbling and a tree growing in the attic.
It’s amazing what damage can happen to buildings that sit around, do nothing, and are never used.
The same thing can happen to a faith that is never utilized. It can become cold, dark, vandalized by intruders and a victim to natural decay with little recognition of what it once was. James warns us about this process when he says ‘Faith without works is dead’ (James 2:17).
I love how Paul in his various letters to the churches in the New Testament describes faith as an activity like walking.
‘Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.’ Romans 6:4
‘Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worth of the calling with which you have been called. (Ephesians 4:1)
‘For you were formerly in darkness, but now you are Light of the Lord; walk as children of Light.’ (Ephesians 5:8).
It’s not natural for any of us to maintain a relationship with Jesus. It goes against our original sinful nature that will slowly start to take over again the second we stop walking. Jesus showed us how to keep walking when He quoted scripture in response to Satan’s attempt to vandalize His heart in the desert (See Matthew 4) . Yet, more than just an ability to memorize and quote scriptures, this pointed to the active relationship Jesus had with the Father.
I can’t imagine Jesus going a day without talking to his Father, but I know have when things have gotten ‘too busy.’ But eventually through a natural decay, ‘too busy’ lends itself to full-on abandonment. It’s a scary place to be and urban exploration videos serve as a warning to never stop walking with Jesus, never let our sinful nature try to re-claim our hearts and minds. Instead, we should remember the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 2:12-13 and be active participants in the process of sanctification with a healthy fear and a reminder of what could happen if we don’t.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his purpose.”