Provoking to love
Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 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 10:19-25
If you are a parent, from the moment that child is born, hopefully no one needs to provoke you to love. It just happens.
And when you stand next to the one you pledge to spend the rest of your life with, generally, no one provoked you to love that person.
But not going to lie. There are times I needed to be provoked. Times I still need to be provoked. Times maybe you need to be provoked.
Provoked to love the person who annoys you. Provoked to love the neighbor who plays music too loud.
Provoked to love the politician whose policies offend you.
Provoked to love the friend who stabbed you in the back.
Provoked to love the person who cut you off on the interstate.
Provoked to love the person whose religious beliefs or national origin or economic standing are different from yours.
The truth is we need people in our lives who can provoke us to love: who encourage us to be the people God believes us to be. (or as a bumper sticker I saw said, "to be the person your dog believes you to be.")
And we also are called to be the person who provokes others to love.
WIth all that loving provoking, perhaps we all end up believing that we are indeed lovable ourselves.
Provoke me, God, to love that person who gets under my skin. And help me to provoke them to love as well. Amen