Learning the what, who, why and how of positive provoking
The world is full of provoking and it is NOT A GOOD THING. First, there is the provoking that takes place among children by way of demeaning and bullying those who seem weaker or different. Then there is provoking on an adult social level as those on various sides of issues regarding personal freedoms and beliefs poke and prod one another. And let’s not forget the provoking on a political level as those on opposite sides of the aisle name call and cast aspersions at one another. Basically, provoking stinks! Now that we have proclaimed that provoking is a problem, there is a verse in the Bible that tells us to provoke one another in a good way. So, how does that work? What are we supposed to say or do and how are we supposed to do it? Can there be a positive place and purpose for provoking?
One of my favorite parts of Scripture is the drama of life it permits us to experience. The early Christian church had a major issue of how Christianity was supposed to work and it resulted in a lot of provoking. Jewish Christians saw Christianity as an extension of the most sacred markers and traditions of their Jewish heritage. Those who converted Gentiles to the faith saw Christianity as a freeing from all past heritage in exchange for sacrificial obedience as a footstep follower of Jesus. This major dispute led to lines being drawn in the sand and the stacking up of opposing sides for supremacy. As these battle lines formed, this debate had all the markings of negative provoking at its worst.
Then something happened. Each side began to listen to the other, and though the debate and discussion was somewhat heated, they worked it out. They provoked one another to a higher, more inclusive and more growth-oriented example of true Christianity. They found a common ground and both sides committed to that commonality for the sake of not only themselves but the future of Christianity as well. This simple summation of a complex event shows us that provoking can, in fact, have enormously positive and long-lasting potential, but honestly, don’t get too excited. Why? ‘Cause positive provoking does not come naturally, easily or without a personal price along the way. We cannot wish or hope or merely pray ourselves into such a position. No, to learn to provoke in a solid and positive way we must grow into it. Step by step, experience by experience, victory by victory and defeat by defeat.
Here’s an idea! Check out our January 8th, 2018 podcast, “How Do I Provoke in a GOOD Way?” and see what it takes to get to a place within your own character where you influence on others is not only for good but it actually pushes those around you towards that which is good. Think about that. You can actually push others (gently and wisely, of course) towards better living and better decisions in their daily experience. Now that is something worth learning!
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