Let me just come right out and say it: People are the problem.

If it were not for others, I would be completely sanctified. Well, I would be close. A lot closer than I am now. I blame you and you can blame me.

It was not the day that we were introduced, it was when I decided and you decided that we would become more than casual acquaintances. I could be nearly perfect if we were but distance “friends.” If we just left our relationship to Facebook friendships, wouldn’t God be more proud? You could Tweet to me what you are doing, and then I would @ back to you. Then we could lay our heads down on our pillows and have a clear conscience, sailing this boat called “Christianity” and raising the flag of the proud. Hey, look at me, I have attained it.

People are the problem.

Relationships present way too many problems and opportunities to sin. Just think about it. Without relationships, there would be no guilt for taking the last piece of pie. Without my wife, I would not feel so guilty for my lack of tenderness. Without my kids, I would not have the opportunity for neglect. Without others, I don’t need to worry about hatred, envy, lust, or selfishness.

In fact, ten years ago, when all I had were “acquaintances” I held sin off like a boxer fighting someone with short arms. It couldn’t touch me. It was easy. But then others came in to my life. They brought commitment and responsibility. They brought obligation and guilt. They brought jealousy and, at times, hatred.

People are the problem.

Therefore, I have made a commitment.  In order to be truly sanctified, I am going to have to change some things. I am going relocate and live alone. I will take a vow of silence. I will have very little contact with others and devote myself to the Lord. No needy kids, no needy wife, and no needy parents. No needy people at all.

If sanctification is the abstraction of sin from our lives, let us become like Simon Stylites or the other ascetics. Let us become monks and nuns. Let us wave the white flag early and flee from anything and everything that might cause sin. Gouge out your eye. Cut off your hands. Sever your tongue. It is between you and the Lord now. With relationships gone, so is ninety-percent of your sin potential.

Sure, now you don’t really have the opportunity for other things—other things we are commanded to do. Love, mercy, selflessness, forgiveness, grace, tenderness, and patience will not be possible when you are alone. But that is okay since it was on account of those things—or the lack thereof—that you have to move away to be sanctified.

Besides, people are simply way too complicated. Relationships are elusive. You never really know what the right action to take is. You suffer from second guessing yourself. You make a decision, then beat yourself up wondering if it was right. You confess that it was wrong only to change your mind the next day thinking it was not wrong! You say you’re sorry and then not really be sorry. People manipulate you and you, in turn, manipulate them. Half the time, neither of you is consciously aware of your own deceptiveness. In relationships, the right often feels wrong and the wrong feels right. You don’t know which end is up.

Relationships just open too many doors. Sanctification just can’t happen. Cut all ties and devote yourself to the Lord. Then others, who are sulking and depressed over the self-realization that relationships bring, will count you godly and blessed. They might even call you a Saint.

St. Michael. I like it.

Goodbye forever. Goodbye Mom. Sorry I am not there enough. Goodbye Kristie. I know that I was never very tender. Goodbye kids. Forgive all those times when I should have been there and helped with the homework. Goodbye Lindsey and Kristie. Sorry I was too busy for lunch.

Goodbye world. You are standing in the way of my sanctification. I am devoting myself to the Lord.

St. Michael

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    14 replies to "People are the Problem"

    • Cadis

      Ha Ha Ha! Now that was good! Bye Michael enjoy your sanctifcation! 🙂
      But still I hope you don’t think I’m going to buy that sanctification is not about being good. Your not that funny.

    • Marc

      Sure, we’re the problem but that’s how God made us. Remember, we didn’t start sinning after the fall but in our created state we were able to disobey. Indeed our big problem is not sin per se but the curse which resulted, God giving us over to Sin. That’s why the Gospel is good news: God is back, he’s not abandoned us, he wants to make his home among us again and bless us.

    • Jeremy

      That was a brilliant piece of writing. It echos loud and clear in my own heart. I can identify more than you know. Thank you.

    • Dr_Mike

      If you remember your history, you know that Simon Stylites came down from his perch convinced he was more sinful and less sanctified than when he climbed up there 37 years earlier.

    • Joe

      Renouncing the “world” has advantages … and disadvantages.

      On the positive side, giving up on the “world” it gives you space to think for yourself, and/or in the way of the Lord.

      But on the other hand, monastic asceticism can doom you to insularity, and a self-satisfied “spirituality” that can’t do good works in the world. That indeed comes to “hate” the “world,” as its Other.

      Obviously we need a balance; between a personal and private and independent search for God and good … and involvement with, learning from, the material world that God made.

    • Mike

      If people are the problem, you would still have to get rid of yourself. Ouch!

    • Cadis

      Another article from Wikipedia on ‘Stylites’…

      ” Roger Collins, in his Early Medieval Europe, tells us that in some cases two or more pillar saints of differing theological viewpoints could find themselves within calling distance of each other, and would argue with one another from their columns.”

      This struck me so funny. You try and try to mortify the flesh and hear comes this clown and plops himself down next to you. I wonder if they ever found themselves throwing things.

    • C. Barton

      You know, the next time someone says to me, “If God is so good, then why doesn’t He do something about all the suffering in the world?”, I’ll say, “He did: ever hear of the great flood? He was so greived that he made man that He wiped out most of the world’s population.”
      That’s how bad we got back then; it just boggles my mind. And after the flood, He saw that we were no better than before, but He repented and swore never to do it again – by water, anyway. Sometimes I think of the rain as God’s tears at our wickedness, and the rainbow as his smile for our hope in Him.

    • Daniel

      I think what I like about this most is that CMP doesn’t seem to employ sarcasm all that often in his posts. It is for that reason, I think, that it comes off so well here.

      (As an aside…You ARE being sarcastic, right?)


    • JoanieD

      “Besides, people are simply way too complicated.”

      Whew, you got that right, Michael. Sometimes it’s all I can do just to keep from saying something that I know would devastate someone.

      Let me know what it’s like being St. Michael. I NEVER get to feel like a saint! I know, I know…folks will say we are all sinners and saints. But just for a little while, it would be nice to feel “saintly.”

    • mbaker

      Loved your post. I’m so there. Maybe we should do a special P and P column, like Stylites, where we can all sit up there together for years and be above it all, but still be able to blog.

      Me, I would probably miss my Hershey bars too much, and have to come down before the process was complete!

    • Wonders for Oyarsa

      Mom: What are you doing still in bed?! I’ve called you three times! You’re going to miss the bus!

      Calvin: That’s the idea. I’m staying in bed until Christmas. I want tons of loot this year, and I figure my chances of being good improve greatly if I don’t get up.

      Mom: Disobeying your mother and missing the bus isn’t good. It’s bad.

      Calvin: That darn Santa has got me every way I turn.

    • steve martin

      If you follow the line of the late Dr. Gerhard Forde, you would understand that “sanctification is merely getting used to your justification.”

      Then, you could come back and see all your loved ones again, and your not-so loved ones. All the while realizing that you are a forgiven sinner and that Christ has your back…your front…and all of you.

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