Hard Wired For Christ-Likeness
It's true that we're all different, we all bring diverse thoughts, ideas, strengths, and values to the table, and we (the church) are a body with many members. We function best when everyone is taking care of their distinct part or job (see 1st Corinthians 12:12-27). It's even true, I believe, that we all communicate differently, prefer different things, and have different social aptitude or habits. This is all true to a degree, and it's OK.
What isn't true or OK is when we put on and own individual characteristics that are not Christ-like and write them off as personality traits. I think we cross this line too much. I hear things like, "I'm naturally impatient," or "I'm just a disorganized person," to which I'd reply: "you must lack the Holy Spirit to the degree that you don't have a proper measure of patience," (since it's a fruit of the Holy Spirit) AND "is Jesus a disorganized person?" I'll confess, I'm guilty of this sometimes, but I think these replies to those common statements are valid, presuming you're in Christ and you're serious about imitating Him.
There's actually a whole industry that leverages the so-called "power" of personalities. Many of these personality assessments are secular, but some of them are Christian, and a lot of these analyses are extremely popular, like the newest fad: Enneogram. I think that there's a few nuggets about personality and diversity from these tests that we can learn from, but a lot of it should be dismissed in my opinion. In fact, as I read over many of the qualities of certain personality types, according to these tests, they are either blatantly NOT Christ-like or they are clearly an unhealthy or even sinful product of one's lifestyle, like for instance, being harsh or quick to anger.
I'm not knocking personality tests or the fact that people are unique and distinct, but I am saying that we shouldn't, when it comes to our very personhood, settle for anything less than Christ. Here is what the Bible says about this matter.
"For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring." ACTS 17:28
The context of this verse is interesting and even a little bit parallel to what we're talking about here. Paul is addressing Greek thinkers in Athens. Epicureans, Stoics, and other philosophy-minded people. Essentially, these people were the analytics and intellectuals of the day, people that might design personality tests today! The moral of Paul's message to the intellectuals is this, and I'll paraphrase: you guys worship the altar of man in his wisdom, his hands, and his mind... me and my followers worship and put on the God of the universe - "in him we live, and move, and have our being."
If every facet of life, every moment of action or movement, and every aspect of our very being is lived in connection and communion with Christ, is it even possible to be impulsive, bossy, quarrelsome, sullen, or selfish? I think not.
"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." COLOSSIANS 3:3
I love this verse and how it separates us from the world. We died (to the world, ourselves, who we used to be) and now our very lives are concealed in Christ. "Life" speaks of totality, supremacy; it's not a compartment or section of our day-to-day, it's all encompassing. If our lives are hidden in Him, and we've died to the old self, manifesting traits that are short of Him doesn't really make sense.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. PHILIPPIANS 2:5-8
The context of this verse is humility, which is arguably the greatest characteristic one could own. It points to the possibility that you can actually exercise the mind of Christ. And, if we're exercising the same mind as Christ, those negative "personality" quirks should fade away. Christ isn't impatient, anxious, addiction-prone, disorganized, compulsive, overly chatty, or excessively introverted, so why do we give ourselves permission to be?
Gifts vs. Qualities or Characteristics
I do want to make one distinction in order to be as clear as I can. Qualities or characteristics of your person are different than giftings, callings, anointings, or offices. I'm not saying that everyone should be a teacher or a prophet, or even a skilled public speaker. What I'm saying is that your daily traits, quirks, or qualities are certainly worth comparing to the life of Jesus. If there's disparity you might want to see if it's a matter of how you're wired, or if you simply need to put on more of Christ in your everyday life.
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come " 2ND CORINTHIANS 5:17
The goal in bringing this up is to NOT allow the devil a foothold in any area, even the often studied and talked about world of psychology and personality... a good way to accomplish this is to allow Jesus a foothold in more areas of your life. Here are some tips headed forward if this applies to you.
1. Don't use personality tendencies as a crutch to be less than Christ.
2. Don't allow compartments in your life where the devil can gain a foothold.
3. Don't allow personality assessments and things of the like to be louder than God's word and voice about who you are and why.
1. Meditate on God and ask Him into EVERY part of your life.
2. Be consistently aware that friendship with the world is enmity with God. (see James 4:4)
3. Invite God to teach you in your everyday habits, however routine or mundane they may seem.
- JF D'Orsie - Communications Director - PCC