To Provoke or Not To Provoke

At a recent conference I attended, David LeCompte stood before the audience, showing photos of Christians in Arab strongholds in Iran, Iraq and the West Bank city of Ramalla. I understood the bravery of these Christians going against the fierce tide of Muslim society. I recognized the need to share the love of Christ with those descendents of Abraham. But I also had a uneasy feeling, particularly when it came to the Palestinians in Ramalla. As he shared his experiences with these people, I recalled the many negative emails I've received and news stories I read about them.
As a Jewish believer, I realized my perspective is biased, harboring resentment toward those who seek to destroy my people. The Israeli Prime Minister said “If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there will be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there will be no Israel.” Israelis don’t strap bombs to their children and send them off to crowded markets. They don’t destroy property and the environment. They live in the 21st century, not as if they were still in ancient times. I could list off many reasons to harbor ill will toward them. But David LeCompte encouraged me to love them as Jesus did, dying for each one of them as He did for me.
After the session, I had hoped to express to him how difficult this is for a Jewish person. No sooner did this thought cross my mind than he walked out of the building right in front of me, and I had the chance to share my concern. He understood perfectly and prayed with me. He said that as he spreads his message of love for the Arab people, he encounters resistance from many Christians, supporters of Israel. Then he said, “I guess I am a provoker.”

I’ve thought a lot since then about being a provoker.
The dictionary defines provoking as:
1. to anger, enrage, exasperate, or vex
2. to stir up, arouse, or call forth
3. to incite or provide the needed stimulus for action
4. to give rise to, induce, or bring about
By this definition, provoking can be good or bad. It depends on who’s getting “vexed” or the action that is stimulated. To me, the word “provoke” always had a negative connotation. But looking at this list, I see that Jesus was a provoker in every category. He angered the religious leaders of the day, pointing out their folly. He aroused the crowds and called forth disciples. He stimulated people to action, leaving home and families to follow Him. He brought about a transformation that changed the course of history.
After researching this in the Word, I compiled a few do’s and don’ts regarding provoking:

1. Don’t provoke the Lord to jealousy. The Israelites did this repeatedly in the Old Testament, following after kings and other gods, losing sight of the One who deserved their love and full attention. Paul asked the believers, “Do you dare to provoke the Lord’s jealousy as Israel did? Do you think you are stronger than He is?” 1 Cor. 10:22

2. Don’t provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4) lest they be discouraged (Col. 3:21)

3. DO provoke one another to love and good works! (Heb. 10:24) The NLT translates this verse: “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” I love that - outbursts of love!

So, let’s start provoking! Let us stir up love, encourage good works, speak up for those who cannot. What can 1 person do? Start with your family. Provoke those around you to love and good works. Start a transformation that can change the course of history !


Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

So glad you stopped by....have a great Sunday..

Runner Mom said...

I love #3!! Thanks for that encouragment!! Enjoy this beautiful day, my friend!

**If you need a cross country fix, come on back down to SC!! I will gladly share with you! I am loving it! The kids and parents are great! And, I am in my element taking a gazillion pictures!!

Truth4thejourney said...

I liked the last one, I want to provoke others to love and good works!

Happy labor day,
Sonya lee