As many of you know, Tara and I are new to the area, and we are just beginning to learn what mid-November is like in central Michigan. We are used to hearing gunshots in inner-city Indianapolis, but now we are hearing gunshots with a different purpose. Regardless of how you feel about hunting animals, I hope we can all agree that this use of gunpower is preferable to the alternative!
I have to admit, the idea of hunting deer is strangely exciting to me; maybe there’s a part of me that I haven’t explored just yet. I have had conversations with a few people at church about their hunting experiences, and it seems both peaceful and satisfying – as long as “the big one” doesn’t get away.
From what I understand, successful hunting takes a great deal of patience. You have to wait for the right opportunity, which could take hours or days. Sometimes, the shot you’re about to take is very risky. You might scare off the animal or hit some underlying brush instead of your target. Practice, skill, awareness, and maybe a little luck – all of these play a role in the outcome of the hunt.
Now, I’d like to avoid using hunting as a metaphor for our work in sharing the love of Christ with other people. Hopefully the reasons are obvious why I don’t want to call this “hunting.” But there are some similarities – and some significant differences – between the two activities.
First, sharing our faith is expected of all believers. That’s what we are meant to do, even those of us who aren’t gifted in that area. Hunting deer is only for a select crowd, but seeking lost souls is for all followers of Christ.
Just like the hunter, when we share the gospel of Jesus Christ with other people, we too must be patient. There can be any number of reasons why someone resists the love of God or the fellowship of his people. But we trust that as we plant and water the seeds of faith, God will give the growth (1 Corinthians 3:1-9).
Sharing God’s love with others is also very risky. It requires action on our part – and that action may have eternal consequences. We might feel uncomfortable helping someone with a flat tire or comforting a stranger in tears or inviting a relative to church, but without the risk of taking action, there will be no action at all.
This work for the sake of God’s kingdom requires practice, skill, awareness, and the blessing of the Holy Spirit. We should be good students of our culture, our neighborhood, and our Lord, so that we can be well-prepared to share his message with those around us. And all our activity should be bathed in prayer, so that we remain in the center of God’s will.
Oh, and one obvious difference. Hunting wildlife intends to bring death to the object of the hunter’s attention. But our task as Christians is to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those around us so that they might gain new life!
What if we became as excited about reaching out to our non-Christian friends and relatives as we did about the opening day of firearm season?