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Sunday Trespassing

“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.” I Corinthians 10:26

Trespass: “Err, sin…to enter unlawfully upon the land of another” (Webster)

There is nothing wrong with hunting and fishing. God gave mankind dominion over the creation from the beginning (Gen. 1:28). Contrary to the cries of PETA and other groups, we have the right to kill animals for food, clothing and self-protection.

There is nothing wrong with recreation. God commanded the Jews to rest one day a week (Exod. 20:8). Jesus told His busy disciples, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest for a while” (Mark 6:31). Learning to relax in a stressful world is important.

There is a time and place for things, however. The Lord teaches us to gather together to worship Him on the first day of the week. We are warned not to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25). A man who misses this assembly on Sunday to go hunting or fishing is committing a trespass against God because he violates the express will of the Lord in the Bible.

Such a person commits a trespass in another sense. One thing needed for hunting and fishing is land. If we use someone else’s property for these endeavors, we need permission. Today landowners are more guarded than ever against intruders and trespassers. They have that right. The property belongs to them and they have the right to decide how and when it will be used and who will be permitted on it. Trespassing, the unlawful entry into another’s property, is a crime.

How does this relate to missing worship on Sunday to hunt or fish? The land or lake they use belongs to God. A man may hold the earthly deed, but God is the true owner. He is the Creator of the beautiful woods and mountains and streams. He is the Maker of deer and fish and turkeys. When a man engages in these forms of recreation, he is enjoying the Creation that belongs to God. There would be no wildlife or land if it were not for the grace of God. The Lord made these things for our benefit and enjoyment. Even if a person hunts or fishes on his own property, “his” land belongs to God. He may have a title that shows the property lines, but His Creator owned it before he bought it and it will be His long after that man is dead.

A man can have legal permission to hunt or fish but he does not have biblical permission to do so when God says he should assemble with the saints on Sunday for worship. Regardless of whose land it may be in a human sense, he is trespassing against God. He has no right to be there entertaining himself when he ought to be in the assembly.

God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (I Tim. 6:17). We must beware, however, lest we become “choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life” (Luke 8:14). Toward the end of his life when Paul really needed him, a disciple named Demas left him because he loved the world (II Tim. 4:10). The same thing happens today.

Christians need to think seriously about their decisions. Life is fleeting and judgment day is coming. What do Christians tell themselves to justify amusing themselves instead of glorifying God with the saints? How can they take this honor and privilege so lightly? What will they say at the judgment?

Kerry

West End church of Christ bulletin article for November 27, 2022

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