In the world of hunting, there are a lot of stereotypes. Things which become understood to pertain to, or accurately describe, a certain style of hunting. Upland bird hunters carry a white-collar, almost pampered, rich man’s image into their hunting discipline. The bloodlines of the dogs, the leather seats of their trucks, the exclusivity of their shotguns, all speak to life on ‘Easy’ street. Upland guys keep their dogs in dog boxes contained in the bed of the truck. Down the food chain a bit from the upland guys are the waterfowl hunters. These guys aren’t much different than the upland guys except…their trucks are a little dirtier, their dogs are wetter and smellier, and they seem to enjoy hunting the most when the weather is the worst. These guys worry less about their make and model of shotgun, an instead, put that extra money into decoys and blinds. Waterfowl guys let their dogs ride in the truck with them. Wet dogs will make the most expensive truck smell awful. As much as I would like to continue to identify and flesh out the family tree of hunters…I realize that I am not an anthropologist. I need to jump over to the section of the tree which contains bowhunters.
Bowhunters also come with different stereotypes. We certainly have the treestand hunter but we also have the public land mountain states big game bowhunter. These guys are renown for the physical conditioning. A small backpack, some water, a couple granola bars, and a weapon which relies on the tension of a string, to shoot a sharpened stick, at 800 lb animals…relies on the legs, lungs, and heart of this type of bowhunter. In the world of bowhunting, these guys are ‘set apart’ because of their year round dedication to the hunt. The majority of them are fitness junkies and relish in the challenge of ‘packing in’ farther than anyone else.
Leviticus 11:44 says, “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy…”
In this verse the Lord is calling us to be ‘set apart’. He is calling us to be His people. He is calling us to be noticeable…as a people set aside for Him. To be holy, certainly has a moral purity aspect to it, but it doesn’t mean that we need to be morally pure first…to be set apart. It means we need to be ‘set apart’ first, and then the morally pure behavior will follow. Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” What Paul is saying here is this; Christ physically died for me, in order that He may live spiritually in me, which sets me apart from all of those who do not have faith in the Son of God. Since Christ lives within me, He influences my decisions toward a moral purity not possible without Him.
I like the way Jesus proclaims this in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” The light shining out of us is what sets us apart before men. It should set us apart before men, before our peers, before our co-workers, before our family…in such a way that they recognize the light as unnatural. They recognize that we, the natural fleshly side of we, is not capable of this light which shines forth. Without a natural alternative, they will ascribe this light to something ‘super’ natural. We see an example of this in Matthew 12:24 after Jesus casts out some demons, “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” Although the Pharisees got the supernatural source wrong, they did recognize that the actions by Jesus were not natural. The supernatural works were before men in such a way, that they recognized the supernatural.
Ask yourselves this question, as I ask the same question of myself, “How am I ‘set apart’ before men? What is it about my life that men recognize as unnatural?”
I think about all of the things in society that we can get involved with that sometimes have a tendency to separate us from God and join us to society:
- guided hunting trips
- softball tournaments
- weekends at the lake
- kid sports
- overtime at work
- vacations (etc. etc. etc.)
None of these things are evil by themselves, but all of these things can be evil if they serve to change our focus from God to something else. When we participate in these activities, do we turn off the light inadvertently, put our witness on hold, in order to better fit in, or just take a break from…shining the light of Christ? We must remember, although we are ‘in’ the world…we are not ‘of’ the world. The temporal fleshly joys and pleasures of this world cannot supersede the eternal joy of serving Christ forever. The challenge is not in withdrawing from these earthly activities, but in participating in them, in a manner, where men recognize the supernatural in us. Where our buddies at the lake, the other dads of the kids on the baseball team, or our hunting partners understand that we are an ambassador for the Kingdom of God, and we will shine that message wherever we go.
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16
I realize that as a bowhunter who hunts the mountain, I don’t fit the stereotype. I don’t train year round, I don’t run half marathons to stay in shape, I’m not motivated by trying to ‘pack in’ farther than anybody else. I am perfectly happy with the chance to harvest a good elk, but it doesn’t have to be the biggest baddest elk on the mountain. My goals for elk hunting are not as lofty as most of the guys in this branch of the anthropological hunting tree. However, in the service of my God, I want to be ready to ‘pack in’ as far as He wants me to go. I want my life to reflect His message. I want the Lord to trust me to do what’s right in His name and by His blood. I can accomplish this if I follow His lead and submit to His influence and will. We can all do this…
Set Apart…that’s what we are.