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shutterstock_141036160Are you an irritating Christian? I hope so.

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)

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8 thoughts on “We Are Called to be Irritating.”

  1. Michael McCaskey says:

    If it works for the people in your assembly, great. If you irritate me, I’ll find a more loving assembly of believers. This is just the kind of attitude that the world finds so repugnant about churches in our society today. Shame on you!

    1. Erik Raymond says:

      Did you happen to read the post or just the title?

  2. Chuckt says:

    Irritate or burn with love? I think we do this normally.

    2 Corinthians 2:16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

    By smiling, we’re telling people we’re alive while someone who isn’t smiling may feel that we are communicating that they are dead.

    There are a lot of lessons or things to consider or study in this.

    Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

    1 Corinthians 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked (g3947), thinketh no evil;

    Notice this definition is off by one number.

    Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke (g3948) unto love and to good works:

    (Eng., “paroxysm”), lit., “a sharpening,” hence “a sharpening of the feeling, or action” (para, “beside,” intensive, oxus, “sharp”), denotes an incitement, a sharp contention, Act 15:39, the effect of irritation; elsewhere in Hbr 10:24, “provoke,” unto love. -Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words

    I see the provocation in differing as in comparing metals which is judging for good or bad.

    1 Corinthians 4:7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

    There are a lot of studies in this.

  3. Chuckt says:

    Luke 24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

    I think the “burning” in this verse is symbolic of irritation.

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Erik Raymond

Erik Raymond is senior pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Ne. He and his wife Christie have six children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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