To encourage/provoke/spur love

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Hebrews 10:24-25

New Revised Standard Version

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.

The Message

Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

How do “we provoke one another to love and good deeds”, to “see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out”? How do we do this? What part do we play in that provoking/encouraging of love and doing good deeds/helping out? I often think about this, particularly as the church gives me as ordained minister certain kinds of skills, expectations and roles in this mission. But this expectation is laid upon all of us in faith communities and navigating these expectations and roles can make all the difference in the effectiveness of our witness, individually and collectively.

I like to encourage, I try to inspire and I have no difficulty shining a light on others, sharing creative roles with others so many diverse needs are met. I am humble enough to know that my needs are not the same as others, that faith communities need to address a wide range of concerns and celebrate a multitude of gifts. I often share that growing up and being told repeatedly that I was strange/odd gave me an early insight that what I thought others did not. I never assumed others were just like me. So my inclination is find out what others think/want/need. This is a huge head start in missionary zeal, for it is no good to love others by caring for them as I want to be cared for. I need to know how they define care, how they experience love, how they express their own happiness.

I am not a controlling person and I love to work in teams where we work collaboratively to assess and offer care. But I do know my role in community, which can be an asset and can be a distraction. I am a show-off, a ham, and I love to perform. In community I don’t need to be in charge, to have it my way, to have things go according to my wishes. BUT I do need space to perform, to use my gifts of public performance to “provoke/encourage” love. If I don’t find that role/space in my community, I can feel like I am not doing all that I know I can do. The challenge for me is to know when my public performance is provoking/encouraging and when it is just showing off. The former is life giving, the latter is self-centred. While others sometimes need to guard against their need for control and assuming everyone wants what they want or being worried about their turf and their credit I need to check my public performance and how I see it lived out in community.

All of us need to be self-aware. All of us need to know our role in provoking/encouraging love. All of us need to work together, in community, to make love come to life.