Does The Gospel Provoke You?
by Martin Schmaltz
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What is the goal of the effective communicator ~ provocation! It is to challenge the status quo of groupthink. It is to call into question the tribal norms. To provoke is "to arouse to a feeling or action, to stir up purposely, to provide the needed stimulus." The effective communicator challenges our paradigm, stirs emotions, stimulating us to do something about what we have heard.
Think of a speech that inspired you: what did it do? It stirred you, provoked your emotions and prompted some action or change of opinions. One of histories greatest orators was Winston Churchill: his words literally moved a nation to action. June 18, 1940, upon the eve of impending war with Germany, Churchill, the newly elected prime minister addressed the House of Commons in what has become known as "The Finest Hour" speech. The powerful, provoking closing follows:
"What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'" Modern History Sourcebook: Winston Churchill: "Their Finest Hour"
In this speech, Churchill was able to provoke: stir the emotions and stimulate to action, the government and people of Britain. And we know the "rest of the story."
Jesus was truly the master orator, teaching with an authority no one else could match. His message of Good News was not palliative, but provoking! On numerous occasions, He provoked the religious system of the day. He stirred the emotions of the Pharisees, stimulating them to action - unfortunately, not to change.
At other times, Jesus' message provoked individuals to transform their lives. His words were concise statements of challenge to change their thinking and act.
> To those He called - follow me. Implying, leave where you are - now!
> To those who wanted to follow - go, sell, give, leave!
His words were a constant challenge to die to self and live for others.
The goal of the Gospel message is not just about our eternal destination: it is to provoke us to action! The Gospel challenges us to think about our life: initially AND continually. It is to constantly provoke me to think about: the idols of my life, my attitudes, my self-centeredness, my motives, my service, my commitment to Him and others.
The goal of the Gospel is to provoke me to allow it to change me!
Food for thought ~ how does the Gospel provoke you?
For more thought provoking ideas visit our website: www.martinschmaltz.com
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Very good article.I like your topic choice, it's a message that we need to hear as Christians in America where everything is based on "accpetance" and "tolerance". One suggestion: you might want to think about rewording this sentence: "The powerful, provoking closing follows:" It was just a tad bit confusing and jumbled.
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