Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – February 14, 2019
And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NRSV)
In most cases, I think of provocation as something to avoid. I don’t particularly enjoy being provoked, nor does it usually work out well when I provoke others! This is because our default assumption of this word is negative, seen as a combative and hostile action taken against someone else. For example, in the Bible, Paul reminds fathers, “do not provoke your children to anger” (Ephesians 6:4). Yet the word itself is far more neutral than we might realize at first glance. To provoke is simply to move someone to action, to stir up in them such conviction and emotion that they respond in some way.
This word reminds us that through our words, actions, and decisions, we have an incredible ability to move and influence other people. As human beings we are not emotionless robots who simply exchange facts and information free from any passion or desire! No, we love deeply and feel passionately, and those deep longings move us (and others) to action. The question before us, then, is not if you are provocative, but how you are provoking others?
The author of Hebrews sets out a bold vision of a provocative faith, a faith defined by the steady increase of love and goodness. The author knows our faith isn’t just for our own growth and happiness but is meant to inspire and encourage others around us in regular and consistent ways. And so, they rightly connect this provocative faith to the need for life together with other believers. Simply put, you cannot stir up others to love and good deeds if you are never around them!
The first step you can take towards living a provocative faith is to seek out other Christians with whom you can share life’s joys and sorrows. Christian community is a risky endeavor, requiring great vulnerability and trust, yet the rewards are unspeakably great. It is in community that we receive the love of God through others, learn what it means to forgive and seek forgiveness, and to call forth gifts and speak true identity over one another.
As you live in community, your faith becomes provocative. In the context of true intimacy and vulnerability you are able to give and receive encouragement, stirring up the life of God in someone else through your own example. Take the risk of being truly known and knowing others. It is the path to a provocative faith!
Father, you stir up within us the life of the Spirit, reminding us that we are loved by you and invited to join you on mission as your children. Give us the courage to provoke others to enter in to your love and goodness as well, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
How can you stir up faith in someone else today?
Christian community is a risky endeavor, requiring great vulnerability and trust, yet the rewards are unspeakably great. #wisdomhunters #faith
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