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Nearly twenty years ago I was in Alabama hunting. I went there for many years because the license was cheap, and the deer were numerous. On occasion I would hunt public property. My goal then was to simply hunt. I was so new and excited that it didn’t matter what size buck came through. If it had antlers, I wanted it. I can remember meeting another hunter one year while hunting on public property I had never hunted before. He hunted with a bow only. This was rare in Alabama. But he was committed to this type of hunting regardless of what anyone else was doing or regardless of the opportunities he may miss. He pointed me to a particular area and, sure enough, the success is on my wall. What I always remember about him was that even though his method and belief was different, he helped and even celebrated mine. At the same time, I think about Roger in North Carolina who makes his own recurve bows and only hunts with them. Or I think of J.R. in Virginia who refuses to shoot a crossbow as long as he can pull back his traditional bow. Each of these may disagree with me or each other about how to go about hunting. But at the same time, they will celebrate each other’s success.
Years ago, I decided to take a similar approach to those who I may disagree with. I decided when they do something good (because everyone does at one time or another) to celebrate their success. When I look at our world, I notice how taking sides has kept us from doing that. I’ve also noticed that while there may be corrupt politicians and leaders, most common people really want to help others even at a cost to themselves. So, why not celebrate this? I once believed I shouldn’t celebrate, as a Christian, the good the Muslim, Jew, or even the atheist did in the lives of other people. Or at least I should temper my applause because we disagreed in some very fundamental things. I see this in the political arena as well. One’s party is seemingly not allowed to celebrate something good the other party does in the lives of people. Or if we do, we must give some caveat about the overall bad they do. What I have discovered however, is this. As a follower of Christ, what I am to love is pretty straightforward. I am to love God with all my heart, and my neighbor as I do myself. And one Biblical writer even clarifies this statement by reminding me that I can’t really even love God rightly if I do not love my neighbor rightly. It seems then, the standard for celebration ought not be when every idea is agreed on, but when one person brings a blessing into the life of someone else. It’s then when we’re almost like God.
• Gary has three books that are compilations of the articles he has written for nearly 15 years. He also speaks at game dinners and men’s groups for churches and associations. You can contact him at email@example.com.