We Should Be the Most Aggravating People

More than once, I’ve aggravated the people I’ve been called to serve.

More than once, I’ve listened to a family tell the story of their conflict and ask me who I think is right. More than once, my reply has been, “It has often been my experience that everyone involved is wrong. This may be true with your family, too.”

We should be the most aggravating people.

In fact, we’ll know we’re growing more like Jesus the more people we aggravate – especially if we aggravate people on both sides of controversial issues.

Jesus was a constant source of frustration for people with agendas, because He never felt compelled to choose any side but the side of truth.

He was loving. He was reasonable. He didn’t entertain anxiety or worry about what camp He was in. In fact, the writer of Hebrews encourages us to follow Jesus “outside the camp.”

“For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” Hebrews 13:11-14

Despite what you may read on Facebook or whatever the last thirty-second video on Twitter reported to you, most problems plaguing our society are not easy to fix by choosing a political party, voting for the right president, invoking one “magic” Bible verse, or rejecting a particular denomination.

Individuals are complex, as are families, communities, societies, cultures, and people groups. If God had wanted to, He could have boiled His guidance down to a meme. Instead, He chose to communicate His plans via the entirety of His Word. Rare is the complex situation that is addressed by simply “choosing a verse.”

Jesus could have “solved” society when He was here, if that was His plan. Instead, He demonstrated a different way.

In the days of Jesus’ ministry, there was mass oppression by Rome. There were unfair practices that ruined families and burdened the average worker with taxes and usury. People groups enslaved one another. People weren’t treated equally. War was rampant. Human life was cheap. Even forgiveness was for sale.

Some God-followers believed greater religious piety would bring about salvation. Others believed political revolution was the answer. Many others just kept their heads down and suffered, hoping Messiah would come in their generation.

And then He did.

And it wasn’t like what they thought it would be. In one breathtaking sacrifice, He provided the solution to everything by paying the price for our sins and rising again to live forever.

Yet, at the same time, He solved nothing, because what could be seen by the unredeemed eye remained the same. Rome still ruled. Poverty and oppression existed. To the unsaved soul, nothing had changed, but in fact, everything had.

Those who saw the cross as the way of salvation and followed Jesus by way of Calvary, found the freedom to step out of this present matrix and onto the power grid of the Kingdom of God which has come.

The world’s matrix still works to suppress the truth and it can be hard to see His Kingdom, but when we live according to the freedom grace provided, we aggravate others, in His name.

For instance, I believe that according to the Bible, it’s wrong to break laws. I also believe, according to the Bible, it’s wrong to enforce laws without mercy. Where does that land me? Outside the camp with other aggravators.

Here’s how I muddle through our times:

  • I pay attention to Jesus all the time. By reading the Bible. Praying. Sitting under wise biblical teachers who aggravate me. Worshipping. Serving. Sacrificing. Learning to love under fire.
  • When controversies arise, I ignore the camps. I refuse to start where people start – by assuming someone is right and someone else is wrong. I assume, like Paul teaches in Romans 3:10, that everyone (including me) is wrong.
  • Like James teaches in James 1:5-8, I ask for wisdom, and trust that God will provide it. (though probably not on social media or in the morning headlines.)
  • I look beyond the boundaries of my own congregation/country to that of history and of other nations. I don’t imagine modern American Christians have all the answers. I research church history for similar situations. I consider how Christians in other nations approach comparable concerns. I ask God for a new way.
  • I ask God to redeem both my emotions and my mind and I trust neither until they align with the truth of Christ. Jesus exemplified reason and mercy. Jesus personified wise justice and love. He is alive within me and His church in these times. We can find the way and walk in it.
  • I never imagine any of this will be easy. The way Jesus took cost Him everything and I imagine He’ll lead me along the same path. Following Him will likely cost my pride, my agenda, my personal comfort, private goals, some friends, and many tears. But taking any other way will cost me much more because with Him, I have everything that matters.

Christians should be the most aggravating people because the way of love and reason upends the matrix of our times. Go forth, and be aggravating, the way a bright light aggravates the darkness.

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9 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Doris says:

    Thank you ~ very thought provoking.

  2. Thank you for this not-so-fun but ever-so-challenging invitation. I think I’ll take you up on it. =8-D

  3. Sue Lanphar says:

    I have often been grateful for your writing without commenting, Lori. This perspective on problem solving is very helpful to me, and I especially can benefit from your “muddling” steps. The practical nature of your writing, as well as your honesty, are much appreciated gifts from God. Thank you.

  4. Lori, I just tiptoed around today’s headlines via Facebook with a special young woman in our family. It was definitely a “hard conversation”. I value her friendship, and she still values mine. Thank the Lord. I also shared your post. I hope and pray she and many others will read it. God has equipped you to speak to this time. Keep writing, my friend. We need your voice to lead us to His truth. God bless.

  5. Cathy Gohlke says:

    Yes! Thank you for being the writer God called for such a time as this, Lori, and for faithfully answering that call. These conversations are never easy, but, then, neither was the cross. God bless you!

  6. Spot on. Today I threw in the towel with social media due to all of the above and my emotional entanglement with it. Thank you.

  7. Tammy Breeding says:

    Spot on!