I love the differing viewpoints that exist within the outdoor community. I think we can all be helpful to one another in some sense as we share the knowledge and experience we have gained from our time outdoors. It’s a point of commonality. The outdoors and spending time there is a part of who we are and its great to think that we share the beauty of it all.
But if we are Christians, being saved by the blood of Christ isn’t a part of who we are. It is who we are. It’s where our greatest value is found. Our new life in Christ governs us from our understandings of origins, all the way down to our speech, the way we dress, the activities we participate in throughout the week, and how we interact with people. It permeates our thoughts, our actions, even our hobbies. So what’s different about hunting and fishing for us? Everything.
The Outdoors and The Rest of the World
The Bible calls the children of God to be holy, meaning set apart for the glory and plans of God. He is preparing his church for eternity in the presence of His holiness. This isn’t some small, unnoticeable action of the Holy Spirit. The new heart and identity we are given through our salvation has an outward effect that looks, acts, and thinks differently than the rest of the world that isn’t in Christ. So, when we dial our focus in from being a Christian in the big world around us, to the microcosm of the outdoors, the principle remains the same. Christian sportsmen can’t help but view hunting and fishing through the lens of their new identity.
Some may call it a worldview, and I’m willing to lend it that by definition, but the way Christians view the world is not simply caused by upbringing, experience, or indoctrination. These things alone would leave out the miracle of the saving work of God. Rather, the new identity of the believer opens the door for an understanding of the world around them that is validated by scripture. For example, a Christian bowhunter doesn’t just see harvesting an animal as meat for his family that has come from an unverifiable source like “the universe”, or as something that was given up by the animal out of its own “free will”. Rather, a Christian bowhunter realizes that in that moment, God saw fit to provide an animal to be harvested and he intends for it to be used in good stewardship. Although the animal is under that hunter’s care, possibly even from it’s birth, God is the one who sustained it and ultimately provided the moment for it’s harvest. Two very different perspectives.
The Power of Consistency
I grow increasingly concerned when the hunting community attributes luck as a bigger player in the harvest or catch than God’s providence. It feels weak. It certainly doesn’t give reason for worship and gratitude. I get even more sideways when I see Christian sportsmen thanking the animal or the universe (yes, I’ve seen it.) for what it has provided them. Why? Because it is not consistent with a Christian worldview. It’s ok for us to say something like, “I don’t understand why God would let me have such a great hunt.” That’s consistent with our worldview because sometimes things really shouldn’t have worked out according to our understanding of things around us. What isn’t consistent is crediting creation with what the creator has provided.
Making the Most of Our Time
Christian sportsmen have the opportunity to worship God as he deserves every time we are in the field. It’s ok to be who God made us to be and do what he made us to do. Isn’t it interesting to think that if we did that, we would be so much more satisfied with what he provides?