The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Category Archives: Human Relationships

Why You Shouldn’t Gloat When Your Enemies Go Down

272

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

You consider yourself to be a committed Christian.  You’re the good guy.  You’re on the right side.  So when that jerk who has been hassling you suddenly gets hit with some brutal trial which causes him to get off your back, you find yourself wanting to do a victory dance.  After all, isn’t God exalting you by smacking your enemy down?  Clearly when the bad news is being poured out on the heads of the people who oppose you while your path is being covered in blessings, then that means God is for you and against them, doesn’t it?  Not necessarily. In real life, things are a lot more complicated than this, and in this post we’re going to discuss what some of those complications are. Read more of this post

You Love God But You Hate People: Why You’re Not a Spiritual Failure

263

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Can you be a devoted Christian who is greatly pleasing God if you currently loathe other humans?  The modern Church, the apostle Paul, and the apostle John would all say no.  God would say yes. Now let’s explain.

God has always taught that He is to be our First Priority—so much so that we should be willing to lose our relationships with other humans for the sake of honoring Him.  It doesn’t always get to that point, but that is the goal.  You see, God doesn’t just call us to be sort of into Him—He commands us to obsessively love Him.  We are to consider Him our All-in-All, our Master, our Commander, our King.  God is supposed to be the One who we are living to please.  His opinion is supposed to trump all others in our minds.  His approval is supposed to be everything to us.  Read more of this post

Improving Your Communication Skills: Understanding Private Dictionaries

253

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

As a human, you speak one or more verbal languages.  Let’s use English as an example.  As an English speaker, there are two kinds of dictionaries which you use to communicate with other English speakers: public and private.  Your public dictionaries are ones which we can all access.  When you come across a new word or phrase and you look up its definition online or in a book, you’re using public dictionaries.  But public dictionaries don’t play a big role in your life.  It’s your private dictionary that you mainly rely on, and this is what makes talking to you such a challenge for other humans.  You see, you’re the only one who can access your private dictionary, because that massive, highly personalized, constantly updated database of words and meanings only exists inside your mind.  And while you’re keeping your dictionary all to yourself, you’re also viewing it as far more trustworthy and accurate than all public dictionaries.  Your private dictionary is the resource you use to interpret the actions, behaviors, mannerisms and expressions of every human you interact with.  It’s your human decoder book, and you’ve been expanding and modifying its entries your entire life.  After all of the work you’ve put into keeping your private dictionary up to date, you’re not always willing to accept the idea that some of your entries are wrong.  In fact, there are certain entries which you are totally unwilling to change, and this can create major conflicts when you’re talking to other people. Read more of this post

Help for Aggressive Critics: Why You Need to Verbally Trump Others

245

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Are you one of those argumentative Christians who is always looking for a chance to shut someone down with your version of God’s truth?  Do you listen in on other people’s conversations, hoping that someone will show some ignorance on a subject that you feel you’re an expert on so you can barge into the conversation and pound that fool into the ground with your brilliance?  Do you find yourself getting all agitated and flush-faced when someone makes a comment about God which you believe is wrong?  Are you quick to break out a mocking tone and condescending language as you’re explaining your view to someone else?  Do you inwardly panic when someone points out a major flaw in your argument that you don’t know how to counter? Do you understand why you’re such a dominating pill in verbal conversations?  You have your reasons.  Humans always have reasons for what they do, and those reasons make sense to them.  Read more of this post

Help for Victims of Abuse: Breaking Out of the Doormat Syndrome

234

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Suppose you want to play a game of catch with your friend Dean.  When you throw Dean the ball, he’s supposed to throw it back.  This is how catch works: it’s a simple game of two people throwing a ball back and forth to each other.  There’s nothing complicated about catch, but it still requires cooperation from both sides.  If Dean refuses to catch the ball you toss at him or if he refuses to throw it back, or if he just walks away to go have lunch somewhere, you will no longer have the option of playing catch with Dean because Dean just shut down the game.  Read more of this post

Improving Your Social Skills: The Principles of Coercion & Power

231

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

The principles we’re going to discuss in this post apply to American culture.  Every culture has different social norms—behavioral rules which play a big role in determining how people feel during their social interactions with others.  Because there is so much variation among cultures, some of the principles we’re going to discuss in this post might sound backwards to how things work in your country.  But because humans are far more alike than they are different, you’ll probably find at least some of these principles useful even if you’re not around Americans.  Read more of this post

The Mindset of Trauma Reversal: Pursuing the Unattainable

9192

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

No matter how many men Sonya dates, she doesn’t feel satisfied.  Rather than be faithful to her current boyfriend who treats her very well, Sonya flirts with every guy she meets and tries to get physical with them.  Sonya’s flirtatious behavior suggests that she really wants a man.  But she has a man, so why isn’t she happy?

Tony is an extremely driven workaholic who has a long resume of impressive accomplishments.  He graduated top of his class at one of the best colleges in the world.  He’s a brilliant neurosurgeon who has revolutionized his field with some very innovative surgical techniques.  Thanks to Tony’s genius, the number of brain tumors that can be safely removed has skyrocketed.  The man is a hero in the medical field, he is adored by his community, and he is married to an exceptionally kind and compassionate woman.  But despite all of this, Tony feels depressed and inadequate.  He’s locked in a pattern of driving himself to exhaustion trying to accomplish some lofty goal, only to feel depressed and unsatisfied when he reaches his target.  Tony’s been the guest of honor at many awards ceremonies, but every time he returns home with his wife, he’s so upset that he locks himself into the bathroom to cry.  Why isn’t Tony feeling satisfied with his accomplishments? Read more of this post

Loving People Like God Does: What it Means & How You Get There

157

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

If your overall experience of humanity so far has been positive, then you’re probably not feeling too bothered by God’s command that we love others.  And with the Church constantly promoting people as more important than God, it’s going to make you feel a lot more comfortable on Sunday morning if you aren’t harboring a deep hatred for your fellow humans in your soul.  When the pastor starts expounding on the importance of loving our neighbors, you can say to yourself, “No sweat, I like people.” Yes, you do.  But your main reason for liking them is that they’ve been pretty decent to you. Your “love” for people is based on the fact that they have been doing a decent job of meeting your personal expectations so far.  Well, this isn’t love, this is approval. When you say “I like people,” what you really mean is, “I approve of people.” Should those people who you currently approve of do something awful to you, all of a sudden your attitude towards them would change drastically.

In this post, we’re talking to those of you who really don’t like people.  Maybe you hardcore hate them.  What is your repulsion based on?  Well, you’re using the same standards as the folks who claim to love their fellow humans: you’re focused on approval.  In your case, you feel that your overall experience of humans is very negative.  Maybe you used to like them until some of them really went out of their way to trash you.  Or maybe you’ve hated people ever since the beginning because they’ve never been anything but nasty to you.  Either way, here you are, hating people.  So now what?  Read more of this post

You’re Sick Because You Sinned: Dealing with Misguided Christians

145

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

As we explain in many articles on this site, God is the Source of every trial and blessing in your life.  His primary reason for creating trials in your life is to draw you closer to Him.  When we’re hurting, we suddenly find ourselves motivated to ask theological questions that we used to avoid, and we become receptive to difficult truths.  When life is going great, we find it uncomfortable and threatening to think about God’s involvement with evil.  But when He saddles us with some debilitating disease or with some chronic illness, suddenly we become much better listeners.

Suffering has a way of spiking our courage so that we stop running away from the scary questions. Why does a good God want people to suffer?  Why are His methods so brutal at times?  How can we tell when God is upset with us and when He’s pleased?  Why is God silent when we’re seriously depressed?  Why does He refuse to answer us the way we need Him to?  Why does He sometimes act as if He’s abandoned us in our hour of need?  Why are some of us suffering so much more than others?  These are the tough questions that we need to get around to facing if we’re going to grow close to God, and we discuss all of these issues in other articles on our site.  If you’re sick, it doesn’t at all mean that God is mad at you, punishing you, or cursing you.  If you’re sick, it doesn’t mean you have insufficient faith or unconfessed sins.  Certainly spiritual rebellion is a real thing, and God will often use trials to drive rebels towards repentance.  But once we start saying that all health problems are a form of Divine discipline, well then we’re just being absurd.  Even health problems which start out as a form of discipline cease to be about discipline once a soul repents.  This is because God is not a jerky Father who beats on His obedient kids.  God is a very good and gracious Father.  If you sincerely care about pleasing Him, then He’s pleased with you—it’s just that simple.  But you can count on the fact that His pleasure will not manifest itself in the form of a trial free life, because God has you on this planet to mature, not stagnate.  Read more of this post

The Element of Power in Human Relationships

129

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

There is an element of power in every relationship. Realizing this is an essential step in learning how to develop healthy human relationships. When power is properly distributed among the various parties in a relationship, things can go very well. When power is being mismanaged, we end up hurting each other.

THE LURE OF POWER

In human relationships we measure our power by our ability to get what we want. What makes a king so different than a regular citizen? When the king says he wants something, he gets what he wants. When the regular citizen says he wants something, he often gets ignored. Greater power results in our preferences being respected and obeyed. And because we’re all selfish beings who want our own way 24/7, we crave power and we find it very tempting to abuse. Read more of this post