Jamie Coots was a Kentucky preacher who took Jesus literally when he said that he gave his disciples the power to tread on snakes and scorpions and that nothing would hurt them. Yep, it’s in the Bible alright, look it up. You will find it in Luke 10:19.
Coot’s son Cody thinks father was bitten somewhere around eight times. Coots would always refuse treatment or hospitalization, go home in pain, pray and eventually pull through. Somehow he figured he was showing his faith in God by refusing treatment even thought the snake bites were from Rattlesnakes or other poisonous snakes. But last month Coots tempted fate one too many times and after being bitten by a rattlesnake in a church service he died.
Rev. Coots was an outspoken critic of the Kentucky law that forbids handling snakes in church services. The local police chief thinks the law violates free speech rights, so he won’t enforce it unless other people are endangered. The good Reverend is in heaven right now, well at least I guess he is. I don’t want to be hard on the old Kentucky preacher, heck I have a soft spot in my heart for Kentucky preachers but in this case I have to say he was pretty foolish.
From where we sit it’s pretty easy to see the foolishness of handling rattlesnakes in the name of the Lord and tempting fate by refusing treatment if bitten. But I wonder how many ways we tempt God by doing foolish things too. When we put sports ahead of church for our children we are tempting God and worse yet hurting our children in a deep way. When we leave it to others to vote in elections (especially Primary elections when it’s hard to get interested) we tempt the future to other people putting people in office to make our decisions for us. When we put money or material things at the top of the totem pole in our life we tempt fate and will discover sooner or later that a life lived dedicated to material things is an empty life. When we put being anywhere else above being in church we tempt fate and sooner or later reap the harvest of what we sow When we live a life devoid of God and of deeper spiritual values we live a shallow life.
Why tempt God? Why trade diamonds for glass? Why overlook an orchid while looking for a rose? From snake handlers to everyday foolish decisions we all tempt God…at our own peril. Do you tempt God? I look forward to seeing you in church this Sunday…but not with snakes in our hands.