Wednesday, October 22, 2014


I've noticed something. People are people. It generally doesn't matter if they call themselves Christians or atheists or Democrats or Republicans or ministers or Americans. They still act like people and with human nature being what it is, that's quite a story.

Case in point. Watch people angrily react to what they perceive as failure and go to the opposite end of the spectrum in order to correct it. Talk about overkill.

I've seen it in church life. A pastor is perceived as not a good people person [though he is a great bible teacher] and upon his leaving the church, the people go for a "people guy" with a winsome personality whose preaching is geared to feeding children, both biological and spiritual. No ability in the pulpit, but all the kids of both kind love him. It's wonderful. For a while. Then he's in trouble. [The attention span of children being what it is.]  He, of course, hasn't changed at all from what he always has been. He's just himself. But now he's not enough for the people. Overkill with it's harvest.

Or, take a pastor who is a great person but is as weak as motel coffee in those two cup packets in the pulpit. [That's weak, trust me.] He leaves and the people go after a "thunder and lightning" orator who disappears from Monday to Saturday except for those chosen few who are admitted into his presence. But it's wonderful. For a while. They are, after all, hearing real preaching now. [In their estimation at least, since a sane conversation by the man in the pulpit with the people in the pew on a Sunday morning doesn't qualify as preaching in their eyes.]  The T&L [tThunder and Lightning] guy has arrived. Then he's in trouble too, though he hasn't changed since his loud arrival. It's human nature being what it is.

[Though redeemed human nature does have the wherewithal to change behavior to reflect the Life of the Redeemer.]

But it's not just churches and church people. Observe the current political landscape as evidence. If Bush said it, did it, thought it, people wanted it different this time round with Obama. Now politicians of his party are running for office on the premise of being different than Obama. Trust them. [They say.] They will be different. They will be, human nature being what it is, I promise.

Then there is human nature being what it is with things that don't cost you something. Those no-cost things wind up being under-appreciated and abused. It's just human nature being what it is.

I remember when I first realized I had to begin charging a non-refundable registration fee for the couples attending a pastors and wives seminar that Mary and I taught in the eighties and nineties. On our first one we invited fifty couples who had responded to our invitation. We planned for them, registered them,  expected them, but half of the registrants didn't show up. This was when there was no charge for the conference at all.

So charge we did. The cost was a non-refundable pre-registration fee of twenty-five dollars a couple. We charged them. They paid it. They showed up. It was that simple. [They didn't know that we would be giving a twenty-five dollar gift certificate to the Baptist Book store waiting for them upon arrival.] It was just human nature being what it is.

The political/social realm is no different. Remember the apartments of the Johnson "Great Society" era? Built and given free of charge to many in the inner cities which became a nightmare to the people living there because there was no sense of responsibility in those receiving them for nothing. Those very apartments are now desolate, deserted and dangerous to all who have to remain.

Some were able to move to homes that they began to own courtesy of a low bar for borrowing.  But, knowing human nature as I do, I wasn't shocked when the bubble burst on those mortgages and the banks eventually had to repossess those homes. [With a resulting economic recession that lasts to the present] I see no sense in making sure a free ride is available to anyone. But that's just me. If you'll remember as mentioned above, I had a problem with pastors having free rides as well.

No one is saying the requirement should be large or poverty creating. It is wise however to recognize that human nature, being what it is, there doesn't seem to be an automatic appreciation or respect for what costs nothing. In fact, the reverse seems to be more the truth.

Finally, human nature being what it is, have you noticed that when people disagree with you on a point politically, philosophically, or theologically, and they can't persuade you otherwise, they begin to assign to you motives that, to them at least, justifies their argument on the issue being discussed.

Let me illustrate. I have come to a position of seeing the scriptures differently than I once did concerning women in ministry. My change is because of a new understanding of the text, historical context, and intention of the authors that I hadn't seen before.

But upon writing or talking of it with some people, I'm told that the reason I've changed my view is because of my being fearful of not being accepted by my culture. And, with that overshadowing desire in my heart, I will certainly one day wind up not calling homosexual actions sinful as well.

I think they have revealed human nature being what it is, again. Assigning a motive when the argument can't be won on the basis of thought or when theological in nature, the text of scripture alone. The fact that my heart is known only to God and is often unknown to even me and must be challenged by me regularly, doesn't matter. They just know what's in my heart.

Politically I see the same thing. The mid-term elections illustrate that quite well, human nature being what it is.

People seem angry and are going to the other extreme of what they perceive to be bad actions.

People are accepting what costs them nothing and will under-appreciate it ultimately.

People who are sure they know why someone holds a different view than do they and trumpet the motive of the one with whom they disagree as evidence for the reason to trust their own opinion on said issue.

I can let it go in politics. I really expect little else. But I'm thinking that judgment may need to really begin in the House of God.

I realize I'm drawing attention to the problem of human nature. The curing of the problem of housing and feeding the poor along with the pastoral needs of a church and a political race running from the last six years are all issues that need thoughtful and deliberate actions. But it's human nature that is the real problem.

So, while we work on all the issues I've mentioned above, whether that issue is religious, politically or philosophical, I'm not going to forget that human nature needs redeeming and that's the business of the gospel and whatever I do with respect to those other issues, while NOT insignificant, is secondary at best.

Those are my thoughts my human nature being what it is.

Paul B.


Garen Martens said...

You have put your finger squarely in the middle of this subject, Sir!
I did much self evaluation while reading this blog and have much more to consider.

Paul Burleson said...


You've put your finger on WHY it took me twice as long to write this post as normal. It was all the times I had to stop and say or think, "Oh my, this is hard to look at. This is too revealing. This is too revealing of me."

I guess the writer has more to consider as well. Thanks for stopping by.

Steve Miller said...


Once again you nailed it with your blog. My father though not highly educated would often say that "most people are down on what they are not up on." I just see you speaking to the insight of how nice it is when God sheds light on a subject like never before and it causes us to think and act different. I am not speaking of a new revelation but more importantly of an appropriate application to an eternal truth. Now if I am not in agreement with what is happening with you then I either can get down on it out of ignorance or stubbornness or seek to understand its application in your life and see if it applies to me also. Aren't you excited that the process of the being conformed to the image of Christ doesn't end until I see Him face to face. Then there is no human nature issue at all to deal with.


Paul Burleson said...


I am indeed excited about the never ending process of change until we see Him and everything mortal will put on immortality and we shall be like Him as we see Him face to face. Great comment.

Aussie John said...


Strange! Isn't it? When mirrors and magnifying glasses become one and the same thing?

Your article brought some sadness and mirth at the same time; memories of carbon copy situations which you describe so well.

It also caused me to consider what I said to folk when I returned from the USA a few years ago. On both visits I was disappointed that the people I met in the USA, were so much like Australians.

I'm right! You know I am :) :)!!??

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

How RIGHT you are is not up for dispute from this end. ;)

I do think I may need to come to Australia just to verify it, you understand. I'd just call it research. LOL

Bobby Brown said...

Human nature being what it is, is at best a "train wreck"!

Paul Burleson said...


Yes, but...

Fallen human nature is, while predictable, an interesting and fascinating study for those who wish to understand the makings of that train wreck. To understand it may lend ammo needed to be that "wise as serpents" thing Jesus spoke about. [While always remembering the "harmless as doves" thing as well, of course.]. ;)

Bobby Brown said...

I find myself having taken part in all of the things you mention any many much more serious ones as well. I have spent most of my adult life damaging relationships with those I love the most and as recently as yesterday catch myself doing it again. I like Paul can say that in my human nature there is no good thing. Judgement does need to begin in the house of God and especially with me. However although my horizontal failures have brought about severe consequences, vertically there is no condemnation. Thank God there is now a righteousness made known that is apart from the Law that is freely given to me as a gift that I only need receive. I am as bad as the lowest and vilest of my friends in my human nature. The only difference in me and them is that one day along the journey I found grace and they have not. Perhaps better said Grace found me and has not yet found them.

Paul Burleson said...


Well spoken and I join you in it all.

I intended to mention earlier that one of the reasons I personally feel the need to study personalities and traits of the same is because I REALLY DO believe those are the patterns of the "flesh" that scripture says is always at war with the Spirit in my life.

Victorious said...

Hi Paul,

I'm a little late to the discussion, but as always, I appreciate your astute observations.

I've found the stronger you are in your convictions, the greater the opposition presents itself. Years ago a pastor said Christians should be soft to the touch outside, like velvet but strong like steel on the inside. He said we could expect opposition but shouldn't allow it to destroy our beliefs and convictions.

When God changes areas of our human nature, it doesn't come as opposition, but as a gentle whisper in your ear, or a gentle tap on your shoulder with a correction.

I'm always in awe of His wisdom and Fatherly (but gentle) correction.

Thanks for this post!

Paul Burleson said...


Well said.

I've found in my past that a look of disappointment or sad eyes because of me on someone I love, sounded like a thunderstorm to me, when the shouting of someone that did not matter that much to me was as innocuous as sign post on the passing highway.

I'm thinking when God has to correct us He sounds more like sad eyes than He does thunderstorms.