So, maybe I'm a radical. That's what a lot of people will think these types of things are, by the time I'm through. It's cool. God is radically different than our sinful age and culture, so I am hoping to get labeled with Him.
Here goes...you ready?
nesis 19. Let me give a brief review. Lot is living in Sodom. This is Lot's post-Abraham days. He and his uncle / cousin (whatever they were!) had parted the family business and Lot had chosen the lush valleys down near the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot has become a fixture in the town, so much so that he is sitting at the gate, indicating he was a town leader. God has sent to angels to perform His work of wrath and judgment. Lot doesn't know they're angels, and Lot is a gracious guy, so he invites them over to his house. Sodom was totally bereft of morals and the citizen's of Sodom came to Lot's house and demanded to have "relations" (this IS a family site). Lot didn't give his guests over to those sodomizing fools, but he did suggest they could have his virgin daughters. Wow, right? The angels tell Lot to warn his family, 'cause they are going to destroy the town. Consider Genesis 19:14 = So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, "Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city." But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. Did you catch that? They thought he was joking! This is what happens to the man and woman of God who assimilates too much. IN the world, but not OF the world!
So, they farm this land and the land owner gets a percentage of all they make. They've been on the land since before I was born, so, for sure, over 39 years. They are very rural, down-to-earth, countryfied kind of folk. They plant, work and harvest. Their lives and fortune are tied to land they don't call their own. At the end of the year, if they've made extra while being honest and upstanding in their living and working, they feel accomplished. Land is a big deal to these folks. They don't own it as much as it owns them. They spend their lives in a struggle to coax fruit from the weeds and thorns and rocks. They plant in the land and curse it and bless it, each according the season and the "fortune" of the season.
Remember, these are not Disciples of Jesus, seeing God's Sovereign Hand in abasing and abounding. They are good people, according to the social standard, and even humble people, but the land and its yield, or lack thereof, is a source of joy or pain for them. That land, with it's hills and gullies, streams and ponds, woods and fields, crop and creature is their lives. Not only do they plant, but they cut and improve; they hunt and they fish; they defend and safeguard.
And, you know, this stuff can be serious. These type of guys can get territorial about "hunting ground." In my days as a neo-flat-land-hillbilly, I have seen some ugly episodes. It can be a seriously serious thing when it concerns safety. I've heard of more than one hunter shot by another hunter for hunting to close to one another, either without realizing how close they were or by carelessness.
At any rate, here's the story...so these farmers are working rented land. Some other guys come along who want to rent the land to hunt on. They pay $1,000.00 to rent the land for hunting purposes. The men who've farmed and hunted where they've rented for years must now go to the new hunt-renters and ask permission to hunt the land they've rented. The farmers probably make the landowner much more money than a those hunter-renters.
I hope you can see into this situation. The farmer guys are upset. They feel looked down upon, passed over and degraded. They feel judged in some respects and ignored in others. Notice, I said "feel." There's always another side of the story, and I haven't heard that. BUT...
Does hunting matter more than reaching people for Jesus? Is this that important? Is it worth ruining a testimony to be able to say "I am a slayer of venison!"
Why can't we die to hobbies that get in the way?
I think of the words of Paul right here: "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2).
I know, sure...yes, the simple answer could be to fully integrate the farmer-renter into the fold of the hunter-renter. However, that would mean that testosterone would need to be modulated, pride swallowed, possessiveness forgotten and new friends would have to be made. Graciousness would have to be offered (and received) and communication and coordination would need to be resolved. It may be easier to simply quit!
War's 1974 question in song is appropriate: "Why can't we be friends?"
No, I'm not done...
Have any of you guys witnessed the average "church" basketball league? Ugh.
I was 25 years old when I came to the Lord and for about 10 years I really enjoyed "church" league sports. It took a few years for me to see how much the average team shames the name of God by "playing" under the name of some local congregation. I've faced mobs trying to unionize work places with more decorum than the average "church" team.
I really could write a short book on the episodes I've seen where men (and many times their wives, on the sideline) totally blow their testimony, embarrass their local church and shame the name of the Lord. All for what? Really? Someone tell me.
Now, I have seen a FEW (and by "few" I meant less than 5) truly godly hunting clubs and basketball teams. Whew...basketball, not to mention softball...ugh.
Most are hacking, arguing, whining, complaining, cursing groups who literally shame the name of God (notice: I said "most". I know everyone thinks their team is in the few, but, MOST are not in the few. They are in the MOST category.)
Is it worth it?
Build a gym at your local church building. Beat each other up. Yell at each other. Curse each other. Oh wait...that'd be just as bad, and like a business meeting, which no one comes to anyway. My bad.
No wonder the church is ignored in America.
Remember my opening Lot rant? Yeah.