One Response to “I Don’t Like People…” (Podcast)

  1. freedalyn greene July 8, 2017 at 11:20 am #

    First of all, I want to say that I really appreciate you, Doug. I would say it to my own pastor if he didn’t disappear after first service, so that he could retain the energy to preach second service. He said once that he doesn’t expect people to thank him, but when they criticize and complain, it makes it hard for him to preach as God calls him to.

    I relate totally to fear of people, fear of not meeting their expectations, fear of rejection; for me as for you, it doesn’t get easier. I’m not good at pretending to feel what I don’t. But what encouraged me in your talk was your coming back to the fact that God has called you to community, to be a pastor. So it is faith over feeling, over biology, over circumstance. Faith that as I am called into community God will give me the grace to do His will, including the grace to take rejection without lashing out at others.

    I also noticed that the words to the theme song seem to relate to today’s topic. Certainly I would be the first to tell myself that I can’t, that it’s impossible, unattainable. And I’m not even in ministry, just show up to church and volunteer, but even that seems so vulnerable, how could anyone approve of me, and then I open my mouth and afterward wish I hadn’t, even though it was only by the grace of God that I said anything because I don’t know how to be sociable. But lately I’m getting better at understanding that it’s not supposed to feel easy: You’ve spoken by Your word, You’ve led me by Your Holy Spirit. As Paul says His strength is perfected in my weakness.

    I think people may fall into the mistake of thinking that the church is composed of an elite corps of spiritual experts who will teach you how to overcome all the difficulties in your life and be happy, healthy and prosperous. And God forbid if after years in the church you aren’t! I’m not saying my church is like that, though I used to fear that I’d get kicked out for not getting ‘fixed’ fast enough. But the truth is Jesus’ church is what matters: His people are imperfect but truly desire to become more like Him day by day. It is Jesus who desires to minister through me regardless of my many flaws and failures. In reading Jean Vanier, I’m beginning to see that weakness does not unfit one for community; rather, since we all have weaknesses we all need each other, we all have a need to belong, but we also are afraid of being put into the strait-jacket of a legalistic group.

    Again, I think we need to see church as part of God’s plan, not merely a human institution. It’s like reading the Bible: there are parts that really stir me, really resonate with me, and other parts that I read and wonder why it’s in the Bible, but I don’t stop reading the Bible because of the parts I don’t like. Somehow, church has become a matter of taste, of your preference in music, style of preaching. We’re too rich; there are too many churches to choose from, not counting live streaming, etc. People own worship CDs, watch Christian TV, read Christian books. They’re not hungry enough to value the local church, warts and all. I was reading Psalm 43:2 My soul thirsts for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? I realized the Psalmist was speaking of the tabernacle, the assembly of the righteous in worship. We’ve been told worship is a lifestyle, not an act in the sanctuary. But the point you made was that if the people of God do not gather together, they cannot minister to one anyone in the way God has provided for. People should not come to church primarily for the pastor, but to worship together, pray together, listen to teaching/preaching together, be nourished and strengthened together in a way that they could not individually.

    This is what I believe, yet early in the morning I dread going to church and being found inadequate. As you said what I have to do is pray for God’s presence with me, that I would be of good courage in serving Him in this way. After all, we speak of the church service: and service is not always pleasant or easy, but it is a worthy undertaking, an intentional valuing of an act, regardless of the consequences. So that the gathering of the saints together, whatever form it might take, is an act of faith in the call of God, a spiritual discipline that in the end bears much fruit and fruit that will remain. Glory be to our gracious and merciful Father in heaven.

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