“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).
Provoke one another?
Provoke is not a nice word. To provoke means to chide, press, stir someone up to react negatively and strongly.
The Greek word literally means to jab or cut someone so they “must” respond.
The writer of Hebrews exhorts the believers to provoke one another to love and good deeds, and not to neglect meeting together (worship). What an interesting combination.
Why would the writer use this word?
I think it might have something to do with the fact that left to ourselves, we choose self-interest and that which is easy. Loving, doing good, and being committed to worship – none of these things are easy. These take commitment and intentionality. Therefore, we are encouraged to provoke one another to react in a way where we cannot help but love, do good, and gather.
I recently came across a study by the Barna group that says that one in three practicing Christians have stopped worshiping during Covid-19.
I encourage, provoke, press, stir you up to react and respond so that you commit to worship. Because if you are not worshiping, you are not growing, your are not maturing, you are not thriving. Just because you worship doesn’t necessarily mean you are growing, maturing, and thriving. But if you are not worshiping, it makes growing, maturing, and thriving impossible.
Jesus himself declared, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20).
Worship is not about meeting and seeing one another – while that is something I really miss about our online worship right now – but it is about encountering the living God. Jesus promises to be present with us in a real way to encounter us when we gather for worship. And it is we who need this so desperately. We need to be reminded of who God is – sovereign, good, loving, kind, forgiving, patient, holy, awesome – so we get a clear picture of who we are.
It is easy to let worship slip by. Particularly when it takes intentionality to log on and be mindful about worshiping. But I want to encourage, urge, provoke you to stay committed to worship because I love you and because I want you to thrive. And part of what it means to be thriving is to be committed to and being intentional about worship.
Thank you for your continued commitment to be God’s people through the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace. I thank God for you.
See you Sunday at worship!