Is it the pastor’s responsibility to provoke? Are we supposed to challenge, prick, prod, and push people into places of discomfort in their spiritual lives?
Miroslav basically answered this as a “yes,” but I loved how he qualified that. “What do I do,” he said, “when I’ve written this book Exclusion and Embrace…and I find some situation in my life that makes me realize it will cost me to live in the way that I have written?” I loved that! An honest admission that he recognizes his book pushes and pokes people, that it makes them uncomfortable…and that frankly, it does the same thing to himself. I love that he’s willing to admit that.
“I guess I see myself as pointing to something larger than myself,” he said. “My authority is as a witness to something bigger, greater, not as some kind of expert. Our responsibility is to point to the power of the story.” As followers of Christ, we do best at provoking when we see ourselves simply as witnesses to the living God and what God is doing in the world. We do our best poking and prodding when we are willing to confess our failures, admit our weaknesses, and be vulnerable about our own fallibility. We challenge most effectively when we don’t portray ourselves as experts who do everything right, but rather when we acknowledge we are pointing ourselves and other to Jesus, who is something bigger and greater, who calls us to a way of life that is deep and challenging.