You are special. So is every other person, though they differ from you. God is not into cookie cutter believers– everyone is different.
We observe such differences in everyday life. Different attitudes, values, words, aroma, appearance, aesthetic taste, desires and more.
Ideally, such differences add to the beauty of life by balancing and seasoning other perspectives; other times there is friction and annoyance, personalities rubbing on each other.
We see differences in Scripture. Let’s look at two examples:
To Enter or Not to Enter John 20:3-9. Mary claimed Jesus was alive (John 20:2). Two men set out to investigate, so a distinction is that two disciples wanted to check Mary’s story while nine others would not be roused. Were the others hiding in fear (John 20:19)?
Let’s commend these two for their curiosity and desire to know. They’d find out. Investigate. They would see if Jesus Christ was alive from the dead.
Peter was one of the two. And “another disciple” (that John 21:24 makes clear was John, the writer of the Gospel) left for the tomb at the same time.
John was more fleet of foot–he was a faster runner. I imagine him as trim, tall, and athletic. That he arrived first to the tomb is pointed out twice in the passage. But he was cautious; he observed the “strips of cloth lying”–two references to this–and to the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. As a diligent sleuth he was looking at the evidence–yet John did not go into the tomb. Was that out of respect, fear, general hesitancy, a social sensitivity? Aware of the norms and decorum–what is the proper decorum when looking for the long-awaited but crucified Messiah when this had never happened before? John did not want to intrude improperly. He waited outside, thinking about what he should do next.
Not Peter. No waiting for Peter. Arriving at the tomb, Peter immediately plunged into the tomb. I imagine him stocky and therefore not as fast on his feet, naturally more aggressive and inquiring. More of an in-your-face type guy. He didn’t look around to see who might be watching. No delay. He went right in. Did Peter later tease John about his reticence? When they reported to the other disciples what happened, was Peter center stage? Ah, yes, different gifting and emotional wiring.
The statement that the “other disciple [singular] believed (vs. 8) conveys that Peter did not as immediately trust the new reality, another distinction of personality.
So the different personalities look like this:
John: Faster of foot, respectfully hesitant, believing
Peter: Slower, aggressive, not believing
Both failed to understand from the Old Testament that Jesus had to rise from the dead (John 20:9).
Go Through the Roof or Not Mark 2:1-12 provides us a second example of differing personalities. Wanting to get their sick friend to the Lord Jesus, some men saw that the meeting was overcrowded. There would be no seats left in front. No chance for their sick friend to have a personal meeting with the Master.
Can you imagine the debate over what to do? I picture it going something like this:
- Leader: “We need to get up on the roof, remove some bundles, and lower our friend down through the roof. It is our only chance to get him to Jesus. I know this is radical, but we have to get Jesus’ attention.”
- Response # 1: “That’s a crazy idea! We can’t do that. Make a disturbance. Distract everyone. Dirt and dust floating down on people! They won’t like it.”
- Response # 2: “Let’s just wait until the meeting is over–Jesus will come out and we can ask Him to come over then.”
- Response # 3: “It will take a lot of strength to get him up on the roof, while holding the stretcher level. If we lower him down and one end or side tilts too much, our friend could slide off the stretcher and fall to the floor below, and we would all look like idiots.”
- Leader: “No,” says a strong, forceful fellow who is used to doing things his way. This person is gifted, quickly understands, and grasps things. A touch arrogant, but he works hard and is basically a good fellow. “We have to do this and do it now–this is our only opportunity. Let’s go.”
As often happens in life, a forceful, type-A, alpha male dominates, and many quieter people find themselves swept up in activities which make them uncomfortable. Yet, as part of a group, team or company, they find themselves going along to get along.
Application The Creative One makes us all different as separate parts of His creative work. No two snowflakes are alike; no two voices are identical (You say, “It’s me” on the phone and most will know who me is).
Whereas bricks (sameness) were the building blocks of Satan (tower of Babel), God has made every stone different. God’s program is about stones (“living stones” – I Peter 2:5), not bricks.
Each person is a separate part of God’s creative work. You are the original you. Absolutely one-of-a-kind. Valued, wanted, designed. The challenge about differing personalities, gifting, and attitudes is to not be so driven that everyone must see things as we see them and do things the way we want them done. Let’s relax. God will work through people, schools, and organizations that we disagree with. But that’s His right as the Designer Creator. Let’s respect God’s creative work in others, and be determined to listen to their perspective.
 I remember being in as conservative seminary and we heard about a revival in a liberal seminary. Puzzling to us young theologs. And it has always seemed to me that God was violating His own standards about long hair when the Nazarite vow was “not razor on a man’s head: Judges 13:5 versus I Corinthians 11:14. Esther being willing to be a one-night bed partner with the wicked king of Persia has always troubled me. Yet God used that night and Esther. But then, again, God is willing to be referred to as “. . . the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Abraham lied about his wife twice; Isaac was passive and dominated by his wife; Jacob was a schemer. Not exactly the raw material of a great nation (so maybe there’s hope for sinners like us).
One thought on “Differing Personalities”
Yes my friend. There is certainly hope for sinners like us! Praise the Lord.
Had coffee with a young evangelist named Aleandy in Madrid this afternoon, whom I met in Cuba years ago. It was a sweet reunion.
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