Don’t Poke the Bear

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14 (NLT)

Have you ever heard the expression, “Don’t poke the bear?” If not, here is the idea: You’re doing something that you should know will irritate someone else and cause severe, often painful, consequences to come your way. We used to use this expression with our oldest child when he would torment his sister when she was a toddler. Doing things to irritate a three-year-old on purpose is like poking a bear. There will be lots of snarling and growling, and, in her case, a temper tantrum that all of us had to endure. So, we’d say stuff like, “Dude, don’t poke the bear.” After a couple of times of this, he figured it out – well, mostly.

Of course, most of us don’t walk around looking for toddlers (or bears) to irritate. But, there are way too many of us that look, and find, other targets. Don’t believe me? If you’re on social media, just take a look at how vicious people have become towards others that don’t agree with them. I had one Facebook friend literally post that “Anyone who accepts our current president [speaking of President Trump] as the president of the USA will be unfriended and blocked by me forever.” Yet, another has posted a bunch of stuff about how socialism is only for people that are intellectually sound. Therefore, anyone who doesn’t support it must be ignorant fools. And, another who has said that anyone who doesn’t immediately condemn another person based solely on an accusation is just as guilty as the accused.

I don’t really care where anyone lands on the political spectrum. My life and career are about pointing to the One who is truly worthy of our attention. However, when we allow politics, opinions, or even emotions to rule the way we treat other people, as Christians, we aren’t living the life God wants for us. In fact, we have to wonder if we are actually Christians.

That’s why the author of Hebrews had this pointed message for us, “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” In other words, don’t tear others down because they believe something differently than you. We are to live a godly life. We are to love others. We are to help connect people with the King of Kings. We are supposed to imitate Christ. If we don’t, we aren’t actually Christians.

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