READ: Psalm 79, Hosea 8, Luke 7, 1 Corinthians 14 

EDIFICATION OVER PROVOCATION 

Clever, active Christians must ever be on guard that they do not fall in love with provocative ideas and bold action. Many saints through time have gradually fallen out of love with Jesus as they fell in love with pioneering, cutting the frontier, or challenging the Church to think. When our central aim becomes the provocation of the faithful, we “sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7). It starts so nobly at first–God gives us a prophetic word that is fresh, new, sharp, and compelling. It is God’s choice thought for that day and time, and His sheep are corrected and helped. It is also a drug to the speaker if he or she is not careful–for having been once anointed to provoke God’s people to truth, there is both external and internal pressure to do so again. Ever so subtly a search begins for the next provocation, and swiftly the focus shifts from simply Jesus to complex thoughts and challenges. Falling in love with edgy ideas and becoming enamored with complex challenges inevitably leads to falling out of love with Jesus.

There is a beautiful simplicity in God. Mystery does not have to be complicated. Our explanation is a person, not a precept. When Jesus comes to us, our minds and hearts are answered and something burns within us when He speaks. Jesus may or may not give us facts and reasons, and if He doesn’t, it does not matter for our surety is in Him, not in details. Psalm 119:130 states: “The entrance of your words gives light. It gives understanding to the simple.” When Jesus speaks to us by His presence, things feel right. We may or may not be able to explain them, but we have soul rest when Jesus is near. Provocation is not the standard means of feeding the flock; cultivating the presence of Jesus is. The presence of Jesus, the simple, blessed, matchless, incomparable presence of Jesus is what edifies us; it is what we feed on. His flesh is food indeed.

The great simplicities of God are found throughout the scriptures. God told Hosea: “I have written for Him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing” (Hosea 8:12). Man wants complex theory; God gives simple reality. Man wants reasons; God grants His presence. The great things of God are considered strange and difficult, not because they are complex, but because they are so delightfully simple. God is good. “But what about evil?” God is good. “But what about those who never heard?” God is good. “Then why do the innocent suffer?” God is good. “Then what about sickness, injustice, and disaster?” The questions of man are unending, and the kindest way God has to answer them is simply to overwhelm us with His presence. When we are enveloped in the presence of God, our questions fade, not because they are unimportant, but because His presence is so sweet all else recedes–including pain. Jesus is our answer. Feeding on Jesus edifies us. Provocation has its occasional place, but Jesus’ preferred method of feeding us is by lavishing us with Himself.

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