As a young man, I hunted with a bow and arrow. I no longer hunt but recall some great memories with friends chasing elk and deer through the mountains of Montana and Oregon. Each summer was filled with practice and preparation for the annual week in hunt camp. Many times I was able to harvest an elk or deer and sometimes both.
Summer was a time of preparation. I would go through each piece of my equipment to make sure it was in proper working order and most importantly, quiet and odorless. To get in range of a game animal, sight, sound, and smell had to be considered because these three indicators could spook the animal before you got within range of your bow and arrow.
One year, at the end of summer just before the hunt, I asked Jan to join me in our walk-in closet. Closets are like well-insulated sound booths where you can hear the slightest of sounds. I turned the lights out so she could not see me. Our meeting wasn’t for a romantic encounter though the thought did cross my mind. I wanted her to focus only on sound. This meeting was for Jan, a trusted observer, to listen for any noise I was making that I was not aware of. It would be too easy in my familiarity with my equipment to assume I was silent. As we stood in the closet, I was dressed in my full hunting attire with my bow in hand. I moved around in the closet and even drew my bow and asked Jan, “Can you hear anything?” Any noise made by my boots, clothing or archery equipment would be remedied and then and only then would I would be ready to hunt.
I wonder what it might be in each of our lives that could spook the culture to sound of our voice as we attempt to share the message of Jesus Christ? Some see this kind of a question as a compromise. It’s not. It is actually a question sourced in wisdom and compassion.
We are all guilty of spooking people from time-to-time, this writer included. We can live with a lot of unexamined assumptions. Assumptions can create unnecessary distance between our lives and the people we want to reach. At times misguided people have defined this chasm of ignorance as something holy and allowed it to create a “us versus them” mentality.
On the opposite ends of this issue are two camps. One end I call the “Hallelujah, Amen, Praise the Lord” folks who cannot comment on anything about God without using a language that resembles a snake-handling sawdust floor revival meeting. On the other end are the intellectuals of faith who have allowed an academic shrouded language of literary excellence to place any conversation with them beyond the reach of us common folk. These are very different ways of living a life of faith, but in the end, they create a similar result – distance.
In the middle of these two narrow extremes is the vast and untapped resource pool of people we want a simple and honest representation of Jesus expressed with a familiar sounding language and with a lifestyle that is holy but not so far out there that a seeker feels like they need to wrap their head in tinfoil in order to be able to dial into our unique God-frequency.
Maybe it’s time to have an honest friend meet you in your spiritual closet and ask them, “Can you sense anything I am saying or doing that would spook someone?” This is a tough place to go because it may require some honest and painful change. Once you ask these tough questions and make the needed adjustments you will be ready for the hunt.