Sinkholes are cavities in the ground that form when water erodes underlying rock layers, creating an underground chasm. Types of rock that can be naturally dissolved by groundwater circulating through them are salt beds, gypsum, limestone, dolomite and other carbonate rock. Sinkholes are dramatic because the surface land usually stays intact for a period of time until the underground chasm gets too big and can no longer support the land above. Then a sudden collapse of the land surface can occur. The sinkhole may appear to have occurred suddenly, but the process leading up to it probably took a lengthy period of time. Areas where sinkholes develop often are the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and in America in regions of Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, Missouri and regions bordering the Chesapeake Bay. Some sinkholes can reach up to 300 feet deep!
The sudden fall of a Christian leader or of a Christian institution such as a Christian school or university, or any Christian in general, can be compared to sinkholes. Jesus compared those who heard His words and acted upon them with a wise man who built his house upon the rock. When the rains and floods and wind came, the house “did not fall because it had been founded upon the rock” (Mt. 7:24,25). Jesus compared those who hear His words but do not act upon them to “a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall” (vv. 26,27). If an individual Christian or Christian school, organization or ministry fails to continue to base their life and ministry on the Word of God, erosion starts taking place under the surface. For a period of time, the exterior (the land surface) seems unchanged, but then, at some point, the void beneath becomes too large, and the surface “suddenly” collapses.
For example, we have a number of well-known universities such as the Ivy-League schools, which in previous generations were famous for training men and women in God’s truth and equipping them to serve Him faithfully all over the world. Although the number of students has grown impressively over recent decades, the schools’ distinctively Christian educational quality has diminished just as noticeably. Despite successful appearances, many of our historically Christian schools have lost their original stability and strength by caving in to worldly education influences. These schools are like sinkholes in that the collapse begins with subtle erosion of the underlying foundation. Erosion happens when the school accepts unbiblical theories and cultural changes instead of repelling such errors as foundation-compromising intrusions.
“Like disintegrating soft limestone, unseen, the underlying foundation of these schools’ teaching eroded away gradually, without anybody noticing. The schools’ trust in the Word of God was slowly dissolved, being washed away by contra-biblical compromises here and there, often failing to affirm and adhere to the authority and relevance of the Bible’s clear teaching about creation, marriage, family and the value of all life from conception through old age” (Acts and Facts, p. 20,April 2021).
The Bible must be the bedrock foundation for all instruction and for our personal lives as Christians. When that Scriptural foundation disappears, unseen by those who only view surface activities, what will happen? If accumulating subsurface erosion isn’t remedied, in time, the ground above will soon cave in, leaving a hazardous sinkhole. Think about what happens when a Christian leader suffers spiritual collapse. Many lives–completely taken by surprise–are adversely affected. Remember when David was confronted by Nathan for his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah? Nathan said, “…by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme…” (II Sam. 12:14). David had tried to keep up a good appearance while there was erosion taking place within, but ultimately it all came crashing down, like a sinkhole.
Make sure you continue to live your life on the firm foundation of God’s Word. Read it and heed it. Act upon His words. Don’t let little compromises start eroding your foundation to the point where one day it all caves in around you. You won’t be the only one affected. You will take many down with you. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable (keeping a solid foundation of God’s Word), always abounding in the work of the Lord…” (I Cor. 15:58).