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Evangelism and Physical Fitness: Hobbies, Rest, and Evangelism

25 Oct

Last week, we discussed the link between “Hobbies and Rest”.  This week, we’re going to look at the connection between hobbies, rest and evangelism – and how the things we do to relax can play an important role in God’s work!

Before we begin, it’s important to note that not every interest or hobby we have is going to show a direct link to sharing God’s message.  And that’s okay.  Each activity we participate in gives us a unique connection to other human beings… and it’s that connection (not the content of the hobby, itself) which yields the opportunity for us to share God’s love.

A perfect example can be found in a friend of mine who used to play his guitar in a bagel shop every Saturday.  He liked to play and the coffee shop enjoyed the free entertainment, so it was a good fit.  It wasn’t a great feat of evangelism by any means and doubtless many Christians would have seen his hobby as a waste of time.  Yet at the end of nearly every session, someone would come up to him and ask why he offered the free entertainment.  His answer always tied into someone (Christ) who had once offered something free to him.  He got to relax and enjoy himself and, in the process, God was glorified.

A number of years ago, I took up the even more obscure hobby of philately (stamp collecting).  The hobby was largely a solo one and my only real contact with the “outside world” was the company through which I placed my orders.  Each time I submitted my payment and a fresh order, I’d slip a gospel tract into the envelope.  Since it was a small company, I’m sure nearly everyone had seen my unique form of payment.  When a serious mistake was made concerning my account, I had the opportunity to live what they already knew I believed as I worked to straighten out the misunderstanding.  I had found a hobby that I enjoyed and God was glorified in its pursuit.

These, of course, are only a couple of examples of how God can use our “rest” as an opportunity to accomplish His “work”.  Yet they serve as an important reminder that God created each of us with unique interests and skills which provide us with the opportunity to reach out to those who might not hear God’s message otherwise!  Someone who would immediately turn their back on a missionary or pastor might very well be willing to listen to you – simply because you enjoy the same activities!

In the end, everything we do in life (including our restful hobbies) is an opportunity.  Whether we play racket ball at the athletic club, go ballroom dancing, attend a sewing class, or decide to take up archery, we’re likely to find our path littered with chances to share God’s love.  Don’t pass them up when they come your way!

Evangelism and Physical Fitness: Hobbies and Rest

18 Oct

Hobbies can be one of the most effective ways to rest our bodies.  They provide us with avenues for developing secondary skills and interests, for maintaining physical fitness and mental acuity, and for cultivating relationships.  Drawing our attention away from present difficulties, they present us with the opportunity to return to the “real world” with a renewed perspective.

That there are many benefits to developing a hobby is undoubted, yet the very activities which help us to rest can also turn against us.  Before you begin integrating hobbies into your rest, take a moment to ask the following questions:

  1. Does this glorify God?  Believers should never turn off their sense of discernment – even when at rest.  1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  This doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything fun, but it does mean that we need to ensure the things we do for fun are in keeping with God’s commands.
  2. Does this hobby boarder on or has it already become an obsession?  Scripture teaches the importance of self-control in all things and this includes our recreational activities.  (1 Corinthians 9:25, Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Peter 1:5-7)  If a side interest begins to crowd out other obligations, it needs to be brought into submission or dropped altogether.
  3. Does this hobby encourage ungodly attitudes in me?  2 Timothy 2:22 advises believers to, “flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace…”  If your choice of recreation isn’t encouraging the godly attitudes listed here, it shouldn’t be on your list of pursuits!  (At the same time keep in mind that just because a certain hobby isn’t good for you doesn’t mean that it needs to be avoided by every Christian.  The same soccer game that leads to an abusive and overly competitive spirit in one believer can be genuinely relaxing and God honoring in the hands (or feet) of another!)
  4. Does this hobby actually result in rest?  Truth be told, not every hobby helps us to rejuvenate.  This doesn’t mean that we ought to chuck any hobby that doesn’t, just that we don’t include those activities in the time we’ve already scheduled for rest.

If you ask these questions about your hobby and the answer to each leaves you with a clear conscience, then feel free to include it in you “resting schedule”.

If the answer is “no”, it may be time to look for some other interests worth pursuing.  Ask a friend what they do to relax, take a look through the courses being offered by your local art association or community college, or just wander through a book store until you find a subject that peaks your interest.  You may be surprised at some of the unusual hobbies which present themselves!

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