I have a history with spurs. I’ve been kicked and prodded by well-intentioned Christians hoping to change my direction. Those spurs hurt. I fear them. They leave me confused. I lose my sense of direction and purpose. I thought I was walking the straight and narrow until a sharp jab startles me into flight, and I take a nose dive off the path.
“Spur one another on!” They use Hebrews 10:24 as justification for their punch in my gut. They don’t notice the direction their kick launched me.
Yet Hebrews tells us to apply the spurs to stimulate each other to love and good works. This has never made sense to me, I’ll be honest. The word translated spur or stimulate here means to incite or irritate. When I get irritated, love is not my go-to response, let me tell ya.
Something similar happened to Barnabas. Paul seriously did not trust Mark who had quit the work with Paul once before. Barnabas wanted to give Mark a second chance.
They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Acts 15:39
So much for provoking the love. That word for sharp disagreement is the same one the author of Hebrews (interestingly, there is a good case it was Barnabas!) used as spur or provoke. They spurred each other in opposite directions. And frankly, that is my response to spurs.
Yet, in Hebrews, the follow up thought to this provoke is to come together with encouragement (Heb. 10:25). I guess the early church had given up on each other.
I wonder if those spurs had anything to do with it?
Today’s church-dropping habit
We are seeing the same thing happen today. People are giving up meeting together. Some people think this is a big problem. Some people have lots of answers:
I’m not going to add my opinion here.
What I am going to do is ENCOURAGE those still faithfully attending church …
…to lay off the spurs.
When you hear someone has stopped going to church, please don’t provoke them. Please try not to be irritating. Please don’t add to their pain or frustrations. Don’t poke them with promises to pray.
Instead, be a soothing balm. Build up your relationship with them regardless of your own disappointment. YOU hang out with them, and not to preach the Bible at them, but simply to BE with them. Love them – that doesn’t mean tell them everything they are doing wrong in the guise of truth. It means enjoy who they are! Encourage them – not to follow your understanding of Biblical instruction – but to be brave enough to explore their soul. Together. And do this together.
Do not give up on being together, but encourage each other. (Hebrews 10:25)
Its time to stop hurting others in the name of doing good.
And for those of you in church leadership, consider adding a few Millennials to your decision-making boards. Kevin Lloyd details 5 Reasons you need a 25 year old on your church board. Its a great way to encourage the younger set that you are listening and want to hear their voices!