I Don’t Like People

peopleI don’t like people. I’m antisocial, an introvert and I see nothing wrong with that. You won’t see me at the bar with a bunch of people. Any free time I do have away from work and parenting will be spent alone. I have never really been a “people person”. People always comment about how “quiet” I am. I’m even quiet around my family. It can come off as unloving or uninterested in other people’s lives and problems. That is not my intention, but it’s far easier to avoid people then to interact with them.  Over the past few years as I have journeyed deeper into confessional Lutheranism, my reasons for wanting to be alone has changed. It changed from not liking the personalities of people to not liking the sin of people.

I think a lot of Christians receive what I like to call “Gospel Heavy” preaching. Meaning they hear a lot gospel and not enough law. I totally understand the desire for that. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the best thing EVER. I am blessed with a pastor who is quite capable of preaching the law and the gospel. Being shown your sin leads you to repentance. Realizing just how corrupt you are makes the gospel of Jesus Christ even more powerful. The Law is a very good thing, until my Old Adam comes along to turn it into something bad. The more the Law shows me of my sin, the more the Old Adam wants to see the sin of others.  It isn’t long before I start judging them for their sin.  Considering the sin that pours out of my sinful flesh, judging anyone else’s sin is ridiculous. Still, I want to flee from their sin, lock it away. I have my own sin to deal with. When I’m alone, I’m hidden away from my neighbor’s sin.  I’m only thinking of myself, my own pathetic attempt at righteousness. The devil has me right where he wants me. All alone, judging my neighbor and certainly not loving them.

In this isolation, the devil has me looking at myself and not at the Word of God as the judge of sin. My Old Adam and the Devil are working hand and hand to corrupt the Word of God. The devil knows my flesh is weak. I struggle daily with his attacks. He knows my weaknesses better than my pastor, my wife, even better than I do. He wants me to avoid people, hide their sin like it’s not even there. If you don’t see as much sin then maybe people aren’t so bad. Everyone screws up from time to time but they are still good people. Besides Jesus took care of all their sin so the law really isn’t important. Most of all, the devil doesn’t want you to call sin what it is, sin. He certainly doesn’t want you to bring any scripture into the situation. You can’t hide your neighbor’s sin, just like you can’t hide your own sin. We must confess our sins and in love confront our neighbor’s sin in the light of God’s Word.

There is no doubt that we should turn from sinful circumstances. We are poor miserable sinners. We deserve hell. Acting like our neighbor’s sins are worse than our own doesn’t help us with controlling our sin. We can’t control our sin, it’s out of control. Only through Jesus Christ are our sins controlled and forgiven. Jesus Christ didn’t hide from our sin, they were nailed onto the cross with him. On that cross our sins were covered with his righteous blood. We were made righteous because of his righteousness and love for us. Through Jesus Christ we can look forward to the resurrection of our flesh and finally loving our neighbor.

 

 

 

About Nathan Redman

Nathan Redman was baptized into Christ at Bethel Lutheran Church (ELCA) Wahpeton, North Dakota on June 17th 1979. He and his wife, Bernice and their two children, Elsie and Porter are members of Redeemer Lutheran Church (LCMS) in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Nathan works for a family owned Pepsi distributor in St. Cloud. In his spare time he enjoys watching Doctor Who, listening to Frank Sinatra and drinking single malt Scotch. Nathan considers it a privilege to write for Steadfast Lutherans.


Comments

I Don’t Like People — 15 Comments

  1. I am glad I read your whole dialogue, because at first I wanted to tell you No Pietists allowed. Reading on however it reads like the perfect testimony for almost any LCMS Lutheran.

  2. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.(Matthew 5:14-16)

    As you so well point out, excessive preoccupation with sin (others and our own) comes from Satan.

    But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

  3. A problem: it’s difficult to distinguish the “sin” from the “sinner.” I think we take the sins of others way too personally. We let ourselves get caught up in the emotion of the offense.

    What gets confused sometimes: What does a person do when they have been sinned against–and that happens on a daily basis–or when one encounters a friend that insists on a sinful lifestyle? Do we use the “forgive” card, remain passive, and then ignore the offenses completely using the excuse that we shouldn’t “judge” and let the behavior persist? I think sometimes “forgive” is misunderstood with “allowing.” This can happen if a wife lets her husband treat her poorly, a parent doesn’t discipline a child for stealing, etc. How much do you let someone “walk over” you to each other’s detriment in the name of “we shouldn’t judge, but forgive?”

  4. @DK #3

    Those are tough questions. I hope I don’t sound trite, but it seems that when we are confronted by these situations, many times the best that we can do is pray for them and for ourselves. After all, we are in a battle with our flesh, the world and the devil.

    So, I think that an enormous amount of patience is called for and trust that God will work things out in HIS time. Meanwhile, we pray for wisdom that the Lord of the Church would help us by continuing to feed us His Word and Sacrament, that we may be strengthened.

    Peace in Christ, who knows all things and is in charge of all things.

  5. As an introvert myself, I struggle with the same issue of not being a snob when it comes to the gospel. A lot of church growth proponents seek to make everyone outgoing and stretch people too far out of their comfort zones.

  6. I’m glad to see this, because sometimes the modern church has unofficially labeled introversion as a sin (or at the very least a character flaw). Try going into an evangelical church where you’re goaded into shaking hands during the meet and greet time. I’m not very introverted, but I do feel sorry for those who are in those situations, because others will often look at them as if they’ve done something wrong.

  7. Thanks be to God that our identity is in Christ. Sadly, because of sin, we don’t always remember that, nor do people who try to change those who are introverts. We are called to love them as we have been loved by Christ.

    Living as Christians in this world is a battle, but Jesus is Lord and knows all of our struggles and sees us through them.

  8. @J. Dean #6

    The “meet and greet/ shaking hands” time should not be during the divine service, but I have visited one LCMS church where it was, just like in a baptist/evangelical church. Otherwise their service was okay, but this particular element simply doesn’t fit with the liturgy. People can meet and shake hands before and after the service, when they’re not being goaded into it.

  9. As a strongly introverted person, I have to say I totally sympathize with the impulse to flee the world, arrogantly believing that I can seal myself off from sin in doing so. Lord, have mercy on my self-justifying soul!

    I do have to quibble with the notion that today’s preaching is “Gospel Heavy.” If you listen to a sampling of contemporary sermons (such as the ones Chris Rosebrough reviews on _Fighting for the Faith_), it’s apparent that quite the opposite is true. Granted, most of it is a “soft law” that fails to call out specific sins and pretty much accepts everyone as OK. But that soft law has a way of wearing one down, because it’s really all moralism–the kind of garbage I used to hear in the ELCA week in and week out, before I realized that the Gospel WASN’T “love God and love neighbor” (which is what I honestly thought for the first 20+ years of my life, before joining a faithful LCMS congregation and reading Walther’s _Law & Gospel_). Furthermore, today’s popular preaching, like my sinful self when I slink into isolation, presumes that we are capable of justifying ourselves or keeping ourselves unstained by the world–we’re pretty good people, and we’ve earned God’s acceptance. Now let’s get cracking to make ourselves even better! If only the true Gospel–which is, indeed, the best thing EVER–were heavy in these churches! But unfortunately, it is not, and the pseudo-Christianity in most American and Western churches is just another iteration of false works religion.

  10. @wineonthevines #4
    Thanks for the reply. That isn’t a trite answer at all. It helps greatly. I think many times we (I) want to have the control over the situation and “do” something out of our own (my own) weakness and frustrations. Allow the Word of God to work in HIS way and trust that he will be faithful–now there’s a concept!

  11. @Nicholas #8
    The “meet and greet/ shaking hands” time should not be during the divine service,

    They call it “passing the peace” which I could handle if it were only to those on each side of you.

    Considering that we have no narthex to speak of, so people talk in the nave before the service, I think we could abbreviate/dispense with this interruption. [But “it’s not the hill to die on….”] 🙁

  12. @helen #12
    On the topic of “meet and greet/shaking hands.”

    I have come to particularly enjoy the “passing of the peace” as used in Divine Service 2, Setting 2 (Lutheran Worship). At my home church, the “passing of the peace” is between the Pastor and the entire congregation. Imagine my surprise, the first time I attended church in my college city, when after the Pastor wished peace upon us, the congregants began shaking each other’s hands and wishing each other peace personally. Coming from a secular college campus (and the world) where LCMS beliefs are ostracized, it was refreshing to consciously recognize that here, in church, everyone around me confesses the same creed. The personal nature of the “passing of the peace” as used in this congregation, at least for me, really drives home the catholic nature of the church and it is something I now cherish, even though it was undeniably awkward for me the first few times.

    Also, in my college home, the congregation turns toward the center aisle during the recitation of the creed. For the same reason as above, I appreciate this custom. As I look across the aisle at the faces of my fellow congregants who are reciting the same creed that I am, Christ always strengthens me in this fellowship in a way that I failed to understand when I recite the creed facing forward at my home church. At the very least, these 2 customs make me more cognizant of the fellowship of the believers.

  13. @Nicholas #8
    I hope you’ve never had to endure “The Children’s Message”. Think Bert Claster’s “Romper Room” guest starring SNL’s “The Church Lady”. It’s a form of flagellation so severe that I can’t withstand more than a few minutes of it before going all Psalm 51.

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