When I saw the report on the latest Outdoor TV celebrity facing sentencing for poaching activity, I hate that my mind went to one place… “Here we go again”. My response had absolutely nothing to do with the action of the person being reported on. I have my personal opinion about what I’ve read, but I don’t feel the need to simply repeat what has already been said 40 Bazillion times on social media.
I think this is a good time, however, to talk about how Christian sportsmen are to respond when it seems the outdoor world wants to pick the bones of the latest story completely dry.
Three things come to mind from scripture. First, “You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” Yep. Jesus said that. He made it clear that his people are to be what brings a usefulness and illumination to whatever place God’s sovereign hand places us in. My question is, how can we make that happen if we are steeping ourselves in the mire of gossip, inflated opinions, and plain tasteless banter about something we had nothing to do with? Yes, we all have a right to an opinion, but my goodness, if we aren’t giving an opinion that lends salt or light to a conversation in a way that also represents the nature of Christ well, that opinion should be kept to ourselves.
The second thing that hit me as I watch the carnage taking place every time this happens is the simple lack of respect that exists for another human being. Yes, these people are celebrities, and yes they represent the outdoor industry, and yes people are going to be effected dramatically from all of this, and yes, it’s clear that some people have been effected by questionable business practices by the various companies these people are affiliated with, but at some point, don’t we have to submit ourselves to the golden rule of Matthew 7:12-14? “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Do we wish that someone would lash out at us in a moment we make a poor decision? According to much of the discussion at hand on the “all powerful” social media outlets yes… that’s what they actually want.
Thirdly, we have to understand that this shouldn’t be a surprise. People fail. We make bad decisions. Those decisions almost always effect someone besides us, and a price is paid every single time. That’s the message of the cross. Jesus gave himself up for you and me to atone for the blatant disregard we chose to demonstrate toward God and His design. That’s grace. Sin offends, Grace reconciles.
So how can we do this realistically? First of all, we have to think about what we are about to say. Is it helpful? Are we just being redundant? What about this warrants my input? Is this even a conversation I need to bother dealing with? Sometimes I wonder if we have come to a place where good communication frameworks have been set aside entirely just for the sake of making sure our voice is heard. That’s not what God wants for us.
We also have to consider the person we are conversing with. Is this volley of words going to edify them in some way, or will we be digging a hole we will never get out of. Honestly, I haven’t found a social media conversation yet that is worth destroying a relationship over.
Finally, who’s watching? So many people don’t realize the impact their interactions online can have. I couldn’t even count the times I’ve seen posts from close friends that I simply have to give myself a good old fashioned face palm over because they had no idea how many people were going to see it. That’s also a part of why JCS began. I can reach so many more people with an online platform than from a pulpit. Consider that, the next time you hit the “post” button.
From a practical perspective, each time we see this take place, I can’t argue that it doesn’t effect the hunting world negatively. What I truly hate to see is brothers and sisters in Christ, jumping on the bandwagon that could ultimately end it all more quickly than an anti-hunting organization ever could. It’s a horrifying phenomenon called implosion. We, God’s people, are called to a life of Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that is may give grace to those who hear.” I believe we have the responsibility to speak life and truth into these moments, and that it is in times like this that God’s people can make a difference unlike any other.