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.