Let me explain. In Hebrews chapter 10 we read of the priority of Christians to gather together. This is a staple of the New Covenant life. We cannot and must not neglect it (Heb.10.25).
But there is something very important that is said in conjunction with this. We read the previous verse in Hebrews:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24)
Christians are commanded to consider (pay attention to, be concerned for, look after, etc) someone and something. We are to be concerned for one another. This is a church directive for body life. And, we are to be concerned with stirring each other up.
What does this mean? It is an interesting word that means to irritate, provoke, or even exasperate. It’s actually used most frequently in a negative sense as in provoking someone to anger or irritation.
But, this is not what we are talking about here. Instead, the writer of Hebrews is emphasizing an intentional provoking or promoting of “love and good works”. This is another way of saying “godliness”.
I am sure this makes sense when we think about life in the church. The church family is a collection of sinners who gather together to grow more like Jesus. One tool that God uses for this is the work of other Christians in our lives. As we feel this burden and intentionally consider how to provoke this godliness in our churches we will find ourselves “getting under each other’s skin”. Why? It is because we are selfish. We don’t like our flesh to be irritated—we want to be affirmed and left alone. But, the church cannot do this. Mere Christianity is very concerned with the family. Our burden is for one another; we are our brother and sister’s keeper. It is the community that God provides aound you that serve you by scrubbing off the fallen inclinations of self-orientation.
When you bring this full circle you can see what the writer had in mind. It is the sinful isolation of the church that undermines this. If we don’t gather then we can’t “irritate” one another. Further, some do gather but do so in a superficial way. Instead of stirring each other up they simply chat one another up about a myriad of superficial things. There is nothing wrong with discussions about the weather, sports, politics, and other items. However, the church is called to be about something more. We are about something more weighty and valuable. We are about love and good works.
According to Hebrews, this is to be on all of our radars and “to-do” lists every day, and especially the Lord’s Day when we gather. We are not meant to live the Christian life in isolation. And, we can’t do our jobs when we just being superficial. We can’t serve God and others this way.
So go ahead be an irritating Christian!
(image courtesy of Shutterstock)