RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Some people really get on my nerves.
People who disagree with me, for instance, because I’m always right. People who agree with me all the time are even more aggravating. How boring is that? People who have no opinion one way or the other are the worst.
Yep, I like to argue, debate, raise objections. If you take a position I support, I might contradict you — just so you don’t go unchallenged. Psychologists say people like me have problems with authority. I prefer to think of it as offering alternatives.
God demonstrates His love and patience by tolerating people like me. And He regularly sends irritating people to challenge my insistence on seeing and doing things my way, which usually leads to disaster. Maybe He is sending some of them your way, too.
Here are a few examples of irritating folks. If they also rub you the wrong way, maybe God is trying to tell you something:
— People who are more interested in doing God’s will than arguing about it. They challenge those of us who waste time dissecting, analyzing and rationalizing what God has clearly told us to do.
— People who love God so much that they glorify Him with their words and their lives. Young believers who do this with extra freshness and enthusiasm are doubly irritating. They take away our excuses for coasting and complacency in the spiritual life.
— People who serve others with love. Not just because they’re supposed to. Not just so they can check “ministry” off their to-do list. They serve others from a sincere love of Christ that naturally overflows to all they meet. Does that mean we ought to do the same?
— People who have a heart for the world. They make it their business to be aware of what’s happening beyond their little circle. They see the suffering and need in places of poverty and turmoil. More than that, they see the pain of billions who wander in darkness without Christ, like sheep without a shepherd. And as Christ wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-42), they also weep. Then they do something about it. They remind us how much we need to get beyond our own safe, familiar zones and out into the world.
— People who listen first, with teachable hearts, and talk later — or maybe don’t talk at all. These folks drive me crazy, since words are my specialty. They painfully remind me that words aren’t enough. God speaks in the silence of our hearts as we listen to His Word and His Spirit. Usually, the only response required is obedience.
— People who pray. They might be the most irritating people of all, because they convict the rest of us of our prayerlessness, indifference and lack of hunger for being with God, seeking His face and responding to His Spirit.
I could go on. There are lots of other exasperating people who believe the command to make disciples among all peoples still stands, who are willing to go anywhere God leads, who aren’t willing to settle for less than all that He desires.
Thank God for them. They show me — all of us — what is possible in a life truly given to Christ.
(Want to be “irritating” on a global scale? Hereare some ways.)