Friday, December 13, 2013
Might I Provoke You?
Heb. 10:24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,
The faithful follower of Jesus Christ must persevere. Life will not be easy and we must continue pressing on toward the goal that is placed before us. Jesus is the goal and transformation into his image occurs as we press in toward the goal. Our desire should be that all followers of Christ would continue to press on, drawing closer to Christ and being transformed into his image. Love and good deeds are reflections of the very nature of Christ being revealed in us. This is why we should be provoking one another to become more and more like him!
Provoking someone doesn’t really sound that good, does it? I certainly know that my husband doesn’t like the idea of being provoked into things like dieting, taking out the garbage or upgrading his technical device. None of those sound very appealing to him and the idea of me provoking him does not always illicit a very positive response!
The idea of provoking usually means that we are pushing or prodding to get a particular response to which there may be resistance.
So, is there resistance to the idea of love and good deeds? Maybe there is! Could it be that love and good deeds are contrary to fallen human nature and therefore are often met with resistance?
Some people find the idea of original sin or the “bent toward sinning” rather implausible, however, I’d like to invite those individuals to the former Soviet Union of the early 1990’s. Atheism had ruled the day for 70 years with the idealistic concept that people would continue to evolve into better human beings, eventually reaching a utopian-like state. The reality is that this didn’t happen. Why not? The bent toward sinning! Left to our own vices we do not get better, we get worse.
Followers of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit are encouraged to press on toward the goal. This pressing on is against the grain and requires a desire to persevere. We are not to be on this journey alone, but within community. This community of faith is to literally provoke one another on in perseverance because we know that we need this encouragement.
Is someone struggling in their spiritual life? Don’t allow them to simply remain in that state — provoke them to keep pressing on! I’m afraid that too often we don’t believe that we ought to be infringing on the personal lives of those around us — but maybe that’s what we’re supposed to do! Maybe we are to help one another reach the goal and not simply be satisfied with where we are in life. But if I do that they may be irritated with me! Exactly — that’s why it’s called “provoking!”
I want to be more like Christ, but there are times that I get into a comfort zone where I would like to tuck my head and stay right there. However, staying there means I don’t get closer to Jesus — the goal. There are times that I need a prodding — a provocation to keep me on task. What will it take for you to engage in love and good deeds this day? Might I provoke you?
Lord, please help me to live a life of love and good deeds with your help and strength. Amen.