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It was just a joke, but I never thought it was that funny. I went to a boarding school and lived in a dormitory when I was a teen. The guys in the dorm were always trying to think of ways to fool someone and make a joke out of it. In today’s language it’s called “punking.” A short description of it all, is to find someone gullible enough to believe something, and then make a spectacle out of them when the joke is played.

Some of it was just light-hearted fun, and some of it was downright mean. One prank in particular started out in a very jovial fashion, but usually resulted in the victim feeling used, confused, and often very angry. It was called “snipe hunting.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it before.

Here’s how it worked (although I’m not advocating that anyone try it). A story is fabricated about the “snipe” bird, and how it likes to come out at night in nearby cornfields. The victim is told that if they hold open a bag or pillowcase and shine a flashlight into it, that the “snipe” bird will be attracted to the light and will fly into it.

This story is often embellished with the idea that the “snipe” is a very rare species and worth lots of money. The victim is asked if they want to go out with the rest of the guys to catch this elusive bird. If the party of guys playing the prank seems sincere, and the person who they’re playing the joke on hasn’t heard of it before, they will usually be willing to go along with it.

Snipe Hunting

The young men then take the victim to the middle of a corn field (along with his pillowcase and flashlight), and tell him that they are going to “spread out” and push the “snipe” toward him. The group then scatters and they rendevous back at the car to leave the victim holding the bag in the middle of the field. After realizing that he’s been duped by his so-called friends, the poor “fall guy” has to find his way out of the corn field and walk back home in the dark. Everyone thinks it’s funny…except him.

There’s nothing wrong with a good laugh. But let’s face it; if we have to get that laugh by hurting someone else, or exposing their good faith in our lies, it’s really not that funny. The Bible is pretty clear about how we should be toward those around us. “My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God” (1 John 4:7).

“Punking” someone, or causing them to believe something so that we can laugh at their expense, isn’t God’s way of doing things. It’s mean spirited and selfish, which is pretty much Satan’s tactic. He tempts them to do something, promising fun and excitement;  then he leaves them holding the bag. It’s something to think about.

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By Michael Temple. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the THE MESSAGE / REMIX®.

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