Human Diversity: People-Oriented People
Why we need this series: Only God knows people
I wanted to talk about this issue of different types of people falling on the heals of our last series about finding God’s will in your life.ÿ Because as we talked about that issue, one of the points that we made was that God’s design for us has a lot to do with the type of person we are.ÿ In other words, it has to do with the fact that we are unique and personal. Obvioulsy, if you listened to my teaching of a couple weeks ago on this topic, you would know that I don’t believe there are only four types of people.ÿ The great truth that the Bible teaches us is that God is infinitely creative.ÿ God is infinitely creative. Example: If there were just so many parts, and we tossed them up in the air and let them come down, we would get a lot of combinations.ÿ But there are only so many. Uniqueness, as we discussed a couple weeks ago, is tied to the fact that God is involved with us.ÿ He is involved in our composition, our makeup.ÿ And as the infinitely creative God, he never runs out of ideas. But in this series we can’t talk about each and every one of usÿ.ÿ.ÿ.ÿ So, we’ll talk about four general, generic pictures.ÿ Because that’s another one of the good things about God’s creation.ÿ There are unifying themes that run through the things we see.
Only God knows (I Cor. 2)
But first, I want to talk about the reason we go into a study like this.ÿ I want to talk about the reasons you should come and listen carefully as we open up the Bible and talk about the various types of people God has made. Turn with me, if you have a Bible, to the book of IÿCor.ÿ.ÿ.ÿ. Paul, in this passage, is contrasting the wisdom you can find in the world around us with God’s wisdom.ÿ I think that you probably know there is a lot of wisdom to be found out there. Example: I didn’t submit to 4-5 years of torture down at OSU because I thought they were all stupid. But Paul says that God has a wisdom, and it’s a wisdom that he calls “mysterious.”ÿ When something is mysterious, that means that it is hard to understand.ÿ It may even be secret. In fact, Paul goes on to say just how mysterious God’s wisdom is.ÿ In v.ÿ9 he says, “Things whichÿ.ÿ.ÿ.”ÿ What he is saying is that all the powers of human observation haven’t unlocked God’s wisdom.ÿ It is beyond us.ÿ When we look for itÿ.ÿ.ÿ. When we study for itÿ.ÿ.ÿ. When we sit down and just try to imagine itÿ.ÿ.ÿ.
For our gloryÿ.ÿ.ÿ.
But here is something I want you to see about the wisdom God has for us.ÿ Paul says that God reveals it to us, in v.ÿ7, “for our glory.”ÿ That’s such a radical statement, but it probably doesn’t hit you like it hits me if you don’t understand what the term glory means. When you glorify something, you bring out its true value.ÿ You draw out its true nature.ÿ You expose it for what it is. Example: You could actually glorify something negatively.ÿ If I glorified violence I might hit you to show you what it’s like.ÿ I might show you bloody pictures.ÿ Somehow I would communicate the nature of violence. But here’s the point of this passage: God reveals his wisdom to us for our glory!ÿ He reveals his wisdom to us so that we can become who we were really meant to be.ÿ He wants to draw out our true nature.ÿ He wants to glorify us. Now the reason that this so much shocks me is because we always picture things the other way around.ÿ Ask yourself, “Why did God give us the Bible?”ÿ And the usual answer that comes to our minds is something like, “Because he wanted us to behave.”ÿ “He wanted us to understand him better.” Whatever reason comes to our minds, it probably isn’t, “He wanted to give us the secrets we need to really blossom.ÿ He wanted to give us the secrets we need to become the people we were meant to be.” That’s not what comes to our minds, but there it is in the Bible.ÿ This is the basic misunderstanding that people have about God.ÿ I will guarentee you that if you are here tonight investigating God and Christianity, somewhere in your mind is the notion that “maybe it’s the right thing to do to get into God.ÿ But at what price!ÿ How much of my freedom will I lose?ÿ What kind of weirdo will I become?” And it is like eating oatmealÿ.ÿ.ÿ.
Only with God
And once again, I emphasize, it is only from God that we can find the real scoop. Example: That scientist, who can figure out many of the secrets of the physical universe, still can’t put together a successful family without God.ÿ We probably all feel like our families are OK.ÿ But I’ll tell you, when you look at it from God’s perspective–what could have been–our families are turning out insecure people.ÿ Our families are producing people who can’t relate to other people.ÿ Our families are producing people who don’t understand themselves or their potential, damaged peopleÿ.ÿ.ÿ. Example: That psychologist, as much as he knows about human responses, can’t figure out the meaning of his life without God. Example: That historian, as much as he understands about the cause and effects of the past, can’t help himself from comitting the same errors himself! This is why we need to listen carefully as we talk about four different types of people.ÿ For one, God has the keys to your own personal life.ÿ But at the same time, he has the keys to understanding other peopleÿ.ÿ.ÿ.
We need to benefit from others
As we talk about each of the four types of people, one understanding I am going to repeat again and again is that we need the others.ÿ What I mean is that we need the types of people that aren’t like us. We need them not only as friends, so that we have different types of people in the world.ÿ But we also need to learn from them.ÿ When someone is different than me, I usually judge them.ÿ But if I’m especially generous, I say that we need people like that in the world. But what I’m telling you here is that we need to go further even than that.ÿ We need to say, “I need to become like that.”ÿ Part of your growth as a person in this life is to get up next to people who are different than you and learn from them.ÿ Obviously, we will never become clones of one another.ÿ But we should begin to pick up one another’s traits to some extent, at least the good ones. So, principle number one from God’s wisdom is, emulate the godly character you see in others.ÿ Don’t just look and say, “That’s nice.”ÿ Try to do it like they do it. The Bible is real strong on this as a way of life for wise people.
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Here is a verse that typifies the attitude God has towards our differences.ÿ Instead of being irritated by the people who are greatly differen than us, we need to allow them to sharpen us.
Paul is outright about this truth, as he knows that he has learned a lot from others, and he has the ability to teach quite a bit as well.ÿ This is why there are several passages in the NT where he actually encourages people to immitate him. Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. This is not some egotistical high that Paul is on.ÿ He knows that this is the way God works.ÿ He works on me through the differences in others.ÿ So, Paul is saying that there are aspects of his character that are worthy of imitation.ÿ “Go ahead and do what I do,” he says.
Ecclesiastes 4:12, 13
Then there are a series of verses in the book of Ecclesiastes that talk about people needing other people, and the haughtiness of the person who believes he is complete. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. He is saying that the more we depend on each other, the stronger we are.ÿ Likewise, in the next verse, Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to take instruction. Here is the definition of the fool, someone who feels he no longer needs the instruction others can give. Ironically, this is an attitude that people in our culture believe should be sought after.ÿ To reach the point where you are an authority, to reach the point where you don’t need to grovel before other people to get their input, that’s the goal! These verses immediately follow a verse that has been used before on Christian datesÿ.ÿ.ÿ.
So here’s God’s secret on how to deal with people who are different than us.ÿ It’s a secret because our pride and our self-centeredness tell us exactly the opposite.ÿ “Judge people who are different than me.ÿ Make them change.ÿ Get irritated with them.” Example: This is the single biggest problem that comes up in marriages.ÿ Couples are so busy trying to change the other person, they forget that’s not what they’re there for.ÿ You’re not there to change the other person.ÿ You’re there to get changed by that person!
The people person
I’m going to talk real briefly about the people oriented person tonight.ÿ I wish we had more time to talk about this, but our introduction to this topic was necessarily long.ÿ So that leaves us just a short time to get involved with this type.
What I mean by a people oriented person is someone who enjoys people.ÿ We all enjoy people to one extent or another, but this type really gets energy from people.ÿ When this person comes home from a part full of people, he is on a roll.ÿ “Man was that great!” We’re not all this way, are we?ÿ Some of us look at other people as an expense rather than a dividend.ÿ We see a room full of people and say, “Oh man, where am I going to get the energy for all this?”
There are a number of examples of this type of person in the Bible.ÿ But one that I like is Barnabas.ÿ He is found in the book of Acts.ÿ And from the first moment you meet him, he is into people.ÿ People are his life and they matter to him more than almost anything.
Acts 4:36, 37
The first place we meet Barnabas is in Actsÿ4.ÿ The story is that thousands of people are becoming Christians.ÿ In fact, it just so happens that after Christ raised from the dead and ascended to heaven, there was a massive pilgramige to Jerusalem for another religious feast.ÿ And this is the context in which Christianity got started.ÿ The first apostles preached the good news of JC to these throngs of people. So, thousands of them are coming to know Christ personally.ÿ And it’s interesting that Barnabas is the first one of these that we meet up close.ÿ Luke tells us a couple things about him, Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement),ÿ sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. First, he tells that Barnabas was already known for his encouragement.ÿ This is one of the earmarks of a people person when they are following God’s way.ÿ They encourage people. Encouragement is a little different than what you and I might think.ÿ It’s not just when you go up and say, “Hey, you’re alright!”ÿ It’s much more than that.ÿ When you encourage someone, according to the Bible, you motivate them.ÿ You motivate them to action.ÿ You motivate them to change. Example: I was reminded about how important this kind of thing was when a woman I have known for years told me the real impact I had on her, “You made me feel like I could.”ÿ That’s encouragement.ÿ That was a reminder to me about one of the most important aspects of our work with each other. Anyone who knows me can tell you that doesn’t come naturally to me.ÿ We need to learn this from people-oriented people. Probably a lot of us here can remember the precise words someone used to motivate us at one point or another. Luke also tells us that Barnabas gave.ÿ He gave because some people had tremendous need.ÿ Because so many people were coming to Christ, there were a lot of them who were just there for the jewish festival and wound up getting persuaded by the Christian message.ÿ So there was this great need that Barnabas saw for some generosity. Here again is one of the earmarks of a people person when they are letting God have his way with them.ÿ They look to give.ÿ And the great thing about this type of person is that they will be moved by the needs of others to sacrifice. It’s so different than some of us.ÿ Some of us are sold on a great idea.ÿ Some of us have projects.ÿ But this person sees personal needs and sacrifices to meet them. Example:
Barnabas went on
Barnabas went on from here and grew.ÿ He grew to the point that Luke, the author of Acts, holds him up as a model of how a Christian should grow and serve.ÿ I wish we had time to go into all the descriptions Luke gives us of this man.ÿ But suffice it to say that later in life, he became one of the greatest worldwide church planters of the era, having a worldwide impact for Christ. But he started as a people person, doing what he does best–encouraging and giving for the personal needs of others.
People-love gone astray
As I’ve talked about Barnabas, I’ve emphasized that he was the way he was because he let God have his way with him.ÿ He let God change him. That is the key opperative here.ÿ Because God has the secrets to develop a person like Barnabas. You see, the normal route that a people person takes is to enjoy people, yes.ÿ But what we do is that we warp that tendency.ÿ We twist it to our own selfish ends. What happens is that people are a turn-on for the people person.ÿ But instead of taking that God-given enjoyment of people and using it to serve them, we will look at people as objects to take from.ÿ “Turn me on,” is the attitude we’re talking about here. You’ll see one of these types who hasn’t been changed by God yet, and instead of excited by people and encouraging them, they will actually be bored by people!ÿ They’ll be looking around thinking, “Who’s going to stimulate me?” Example: I have one friend who is a great people person.ÿ She exemplifies quite a few of these positive traits.ÿ But she also shows some of the negative still.ÿ And if she is hanging around people and they aren’t just stimulating enough, she’ll go to sleep right there!ÿ Sitting in a chair! And you can sometimes sense this tendency in someone as a subtle–sometimes not so subtle–demand for attention.ÿ A demand for stimulation, now! A love of people, gone astray. God’s secret, if he can have his way, is to turn this kind of person into the kind of person who engergizes the people around him.ÿ The kind of person where we feel like, “Oh, where is he?ÿ We need him around here for some of that positive stuff he gives us!” I’m going to finish up on this topic next week and talk about the next type of person, the task oriented person.ÿ But I want to save some of the practicals on how we can become an exciting, life-giving people person rather than just a sponge. Lemmon juice with worch. sauce and tobasco, marinate the fish.ÿ After marinade, put in a flower and salt batter (little salt).ÿ After dipping in flour, put in an egg “wash” (milk and egg).ÿ Then he has a mixture of parmisian cheese and sesame seed.ÿ The fillets go in that next.ÿ Then fry them as usual.