Lawnmower Man and the Bible

Anyone who puts a hand to the lawnmower

The image of the man in Canada who was unphased by a tornado nearby while mowing the lawn went viral online in June. Only now, after some time has passed, did it dawn on me to connect it with the way I once thought of updating Jesus’ words in Luke 9:62. I’ve heard it said that if someone seeks to plow while regularly looking backwards, they will end up with crooked plow lines. The same presumably goes for mowing.

If the point of the saying attributed to Jesus in the Gospels is unwavering dedication, then “lawnmower man” again seems to illustrate the point well. His commitment to mowing a lawn that might soon be torn to shreds by a tornado was resolute.

But this highlights as well the other side of the coin, which is the fact that unwavering dedication is not always wise or sensible, and may be downright foolhardy.

There is a danger in elevating commitment to the point where it trumps everything else. The biggest danger is that it can cease to matter what your commitment is to. Even if you define faith as trust or allegiance rather than belief in the truth of propositions, there must be a way for the object/focus of that trust/dedication to matter.

To return once again to the illustration, we should not view commitment to mowing one’s lawn whatever the weather in the same way that we view commitment to defending the persecuted no matter how angry the mobs who are attacking them.

But of course, Jesus wasn’t really talking about plowing. And so lawnmower man still works well the way he is intended to here: as a parable, an illustration of a point.

 

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  • Brandon Roberts

    ok this got a laugh out of me

  • Gary

    Perhaps I am too skeptical. But the title on the article, is
    “Theunis Wessels was determined to mow the lawn even as an intimidating storm brewed behind him, leading to his moment in the sun.”

    No one finds it strange that in the storm, there is no sun, and no shadows. But the guy is mowing the lawn wearing sun glasses!

    Either Canadians are afraid of the sun, or something is fishy in the land of sky blue waters.

    • Gary

      “if someone seeks to plow while regularly looking backwards, they will end up with crooked plow lines. The same presumably goes for mowing”…
      Interesting, as well, no mowing lines in the grass. Usually you see where the mower traversed, with longer, uncut, grass on one side of the mower. And with no grass catcher, lumps of grass behind the mower. Unless the grass wasn’t long to begin with. If that were the case, the lawn didn’t need mowing to begin with. All in all – obviously a photoshop job, and a snow job by the guy from Canada/South Africa.

  • roger ragland

    According to the article, the tornado was much further away than it appears in the photo, and it was moving away from the “lawnmower man’s” house. The only lesson we learn about the bible here is that you should not take its contents out of context – like the author did here with the photo. Bad journalism here for sure.

  • Clayton Gafne Jaymes

    Why would always obeying God according to Scripture ever seem to be insensible or anything of the kind when it comes to building a world on God and not the ‘world’?

    What did Jesus say of ‘building’ on the ‘rock’ versus building on something else? Who is the ‘fock’ that any individula or even ‘nation’ or ‘world’ is to build itself upon in order to survive the thrashing God is going to bring in the coming future to remove the wicked and unrighteous

    Luke 6:46 “Why, then, do you call me*(*Jesus*)* ‘Lord! Lord!’ but do not do the things I say? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man who in building a house dug and went down deep and laid a foundation on the rock. Consequently, when a flood came, the river dashed against that house but was not strong enough to shake it, for it was well-built. 49 On the other hand, whoever hears and does nothing is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The river dashed against it, and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” -[RNWT
    ***

    It is always wise to obey things of God even when it doesn’t seem to make sense to us. Perhaps it is when it seems to make the least sense that we need ot obey it the most. Do you know what the future day/s hold? Do you know what God is doing that we are not made fully aware of?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      You seem to be assuming that people know with no ambiguity what God wants, and interpret it correctly. There is a difference between the Christian call to commit to a set of values that looks foolish to others, and simply using faith as an excuse to act in ways that are nonsensical and silly.

      • Clayton Gafne Jaymes

        Hello to you today James and thank you for replying.

        Proverbs 13:2o says: 20 The one walking with the wise will become wise,
        But the one who has dealings with the stupid will fare badly. -[RNWT
        ***

        How did I assume anything? I am simply pointing to the reality that no believer in Christ should look to anything outside of God to find the path/way etc to follow and go about accomplishing things the world is ‘sympathetic’/’empathetic’ to.

        Though I will agree with you on the point that some do hold to things in seemingly foolish and silly ways. But then I am sure you’d believe that about me at times. Am I wrong of that? So I ask you, who is to say what truly is ‘foolish’ or ‘silly’ whenit come to be based on ‘faith’? when there is no good Scriptural point to show they should be persuing a different course?

        AS Proverbs says, ‘those who walk with ‘the wise’ become wise’. Are wise ones of the world the same in God’s eyes as wise ones of faith belonging to God?
        ***

        That guy that was on the lawnmower, you know according to him he was watching that tornado that was off in the distance and moving away from his place? Now personally I can’t say I would have done what he did. But I would think if I saw it going away from me I would be less concerned compared to watching it make a straight line, or ‘ball park’ for my place.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          There is no way to not look to anything outside of God. We as human beings are unable to step outside of our human limitations, and what we have in the Bible are likewise human writings about God. And so that is precisely why the Bible itself emphasizes the need to listen to wise counsel and not simply rely on our own understanding. But many people seem to think that if it is their own understanding of what God wants, then the proverb no longer applies…

          • Clayton Gafne Jaymes

            Why do you contradict God James? Why are you calling God’s Scripture a book writings from men about God? Where does God say that is the case rather than **ALL scripture is inspired/breathed of God**? Where does Scripture say that all prophecy is thought up by man about things of God? You are simply telling inaccuracies of who is the true aurthor of all Scripture.

            Where does this passage say ‘go to other humans’ who don’t believe in God to find ‘truth’ of the world and spiritual direction to follow the true God?
            Proverbs3:5 Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, And do not rely on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways take notice of him, And he will make your paths straight.
            ***

            Anything that contradicts God is not the truth. And it isn’t to be listened to. How can you be a man of God and say otherwise in an honest place of yourself James?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            What a strange comment! You think that God was the author of the statement that all the writings are “God-breathed” (presumably meaning that, as with lifeless Adam without breath from God, these texts come alive because of divine activity upon them)? Have you not read the human letter that it is part of? It is no good to speak in a lofty fashion about the important collection of texts known as the Bible, and yet to fail to embrace not only its teachings about the limitations of human understanding which you yourself quote and yet ignore but also the evidence it provides that humans wrote these texts.

          • Clayton Gafne Jaymes

            No James, I don’t think, I know it is from God. Either God’s telling the truth through His men who do not lie or you are telling the ‘truth’ as you seem to trust it is. Which ar3e we to believe, you or Scripture? Which are you to believe, a man not saying what Scripture says or listen to the Scripture given by the men of God?

            2 Peter 1: 20 For you know this first, that NO prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. 21 FOR prophecy WAS AT NO TIME brought by man’s will,BUT MEN SPOKE from God as they were moved by holy spirit
            ***

            ALL Scripture is inspired/breathed of God.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            You are treating 2 Peter as though God wrote it, whereas it is doubtful even that Peter wrote it. But that is the least of your problems. You are taking the words of humans from the past, declaring them to be something other than human words in a manner that is idolatrous, and using them as an excuse to ignore anyone who disagrees with you.

          • Clayton Gafne Jaymes

            Thank you James.

            Say what you please and reason as you will. But at the end of the day let us all remember that you calim to believe in God and Jesus right? So do I. And which of the 2 of us is using that book while the other denies and downplays it to bring in the real ‘word of men’ that aren’t inspired of the True God??

            You have a good rest of the day wherever you are James.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            No, one of us is being honest about a collection of ancient literature, and respects it enough to not distort its authorship or its contents, while the other prefers to deify it in a manner that is at odds both with the evidence within that collection’s works, and with the teachings therein.