On a varying degree, every sport involves risk. And all who play the sport must come to terms with those risks. Whether it’s the risk of an ankle or knee, or worse your head or face, every sport played involves risk. And yet there are those sports which are inherently more riskier than others. Ones that not only have a greater potential risk involved, but a greater severity of risk, such as the loss of life. These types of sports have their own category, they are called extreme sports. There are a host of them out there, in which pumped-up adrenaline junkies take on with, more or less, their life, from rock climbing, free flying, hand gliding, ice climbing, and parkour.
Among the most dangerous extreme sports is what is known as BASE jumping. Akin to skydiving and free diving, BASE jumping distinguishes itself from the rest in regards to the type of platform from which one jumps. The term BASE is actually an acronym that stands for four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: Building, Antenna, Span, or Earth (cliff). The basic idea is that one selects an object high above the earth and then after climbing it, proceeds to jump from it aided down by the help of a parachute or a combination of a strong lightweight cloth joined between the arms and legs, like a flying squirrel suit and a parachute. The sport of it all is less found in the thrill of jumping, but more so in the achieving, like rungs on a rope, a jump from each type of category, whether a building, an antenna, a span (known to most as a bridge), or earth (otherwise known as a mountain). Once one has jumped from each category, that person may call themselves a BASE jumper.
Now, the risk involved is obvious. One mishap and the person jumping will be killed. Just consider the founder and advancer of the sport, Carl Boenish, who after accomplishing numerous successful jumps died at the age of 43 when attempting to jump from Troll Wall a part of the Romsdelan valley along the Norwegian west coast. It just takes one tangled line in your chute, and you may be found like a pancake on the ground.
And yet what ranks this extreme sport as most risky is the mortality rate associated with BASE jumping, where according to some unofficial counts is 1 in every 2,300. And That’s not 1 in every 2,300 BASE jumpers dies, but jumps, 1 in every 2,300 jumps ends in a death. Now to gain some perspective, skydiving carries a mortality rate of 1 in every 100,000 jumps. A lot safer, huh?
So what makes this type of jumping so dangerous? Three factors:
- Distance to the earth - Jumps can be made from as little as 500 ft or less depending if you have the proper equipment.
- Availability of Platforms - Anything and everything can be a platform from which to jump. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to land on a boat in the water, or get a safe distance away from the cliff you are leaving, if you can jump from it and it conforms to 1 of the 4 categories, it counts.
- And because most everything counts, the most dangerous factor, Anyone can do it - You don’t need to pay a $100 ticket on a plane to get in the air, just find a bridge and jump, any thrill seeker can do it… that is with a properly packed parachute.
BASE jumping is an extreme sport. Why then would anybody do this? It’s as if every time you play the sport, you are bringing upon yourself massive risk needlessly and simply for the cheap thrill of experimentation. It is definitely not worth it, right?
But then why do we do the same thing with sin? We flirt with it like some cheap thrill, knowing that if we it may cause us irreparable damage to our hearts and souls. It's like we've never listened to what our mothers have always told us when they've ripped a box of matches out of our hands and stomped out our little stick fire in the sandbox... "Johnny, don't play with fire, or you might just get burned!"
Our passage on Sunday tonight taken from the letter to Thyatira speaks to this same sort of situation, where persons in the church are incurring themselves some massive risk needlessly and simply for a momentary cheap thrill. And Christ’s words are to them and also to us is, “Stop playing with fire, or you might just get burned.”
Join us this Sunday evening for the message to the Church of Thyatira, entitled, "Playing with Sin".