I have a dear friend who lives in South America. He's a pastor and a teacher and loves the Lord Jesus Christ and passionately lives for Him, spreading His Good News of soul-saving grace. This friend also provokes people. He provokes intentionally, methodically and often. Yes, he provokes people ON PURPOSE. He doesn't seem to care what others think of him, either. I am amazed by him.
Provoking people does not go well with modern-day Christian thinking. I read this article today on The Matt Walsh Blog and I have to say, I agree with nearly everything this man had to say. (The one comment I would take exception to is not part of this topic, so I'll let it lie for now.) Nice is being exalted above Truth in many, many churches and in the lives of many professing Christians.
How are we fulfilling The Great Commission if we are simply being nice? Being nice is subjective on all sides. What I might consider nice may not necessarily be considered nice by someone else. I've "nicely" told the truth to someone only to be accused of having the wrong body language, or not having a kind enough tone in my voice. Those things are all subjective. I had no guile in my tone; the hearer read their own dissatisfaction into my tone.
We can be nice.....which might make people around us happy.....but they will be happy all the way to Hell and that is completely unacceptable.
I want to become more like my provoking friend. He told me about his brother-in-law, how that brother-in-law was an unbeliever. He said, "I provoked my brother-in-law every time I saw him. I kept on provoking him. He got angry sometimes, but I kept provoking him. Then, one day, he believed on Jesus. You can be sure he's glad I did not give up on provoking him."
Do you love people? Provoke them.