Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jesus Christ's Self Compass

A pastoral counseling colleague at Harvard Divinity School told me that, "Jesus Christ had no personality as we know it today. He has nothing in common with modern conceptions of personality. And there is no similarity between his behavior and ours."

I disagree. Jesus' behavior in the Gospels reveals what personality is all about—motivation, perception, learning, memory, emotion, cognition, and spirituality. The Son of God became fully human precisely so we can relate to him through our personalities. And in Christ's behavior we see God's personality wholeness, as well as a model for becoming more whole ourselves. 

Biblical names of Jesus Christ reveal crucial aspects of his personality. Four names in particular illustrate the complimentary dynamics of  Christ’s Self Compass

Christ's Self Compass

Jesus as the Good Shepherd reveals the Love compass point. He watches over his sheep and calls them by name. As he lays his life down for his sheep out of love, so he commands: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (Jn 13:34). Jesus shows us how: In caring service Christ taught the disciples, and healed and fed the multitudes. He formed close friendships that revealed loyalty and emotional fulfillment, yet cared for himself by taking time to pull back from his ministry and restore his energies.

The Lion of Judah reveals the Assertion compass point of Jesus’ personality. A fierce opponent of injustice, Jesus rebuked the self-righteous Pharisees and drove the moneychangers out of his Father’s temple. Though tempted by Satan, he resisted and affirmed the Father's will, and will return to judge the living and the dead. And Jesus challenges us all to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" (Mk 16:15). It is from Assertion that we find the courage to live out Christ's commands, imperfectly, yet courageously.

Growing Christlike

The Lamb of God reveals the Weakness compass point of Jesus' personality when he gives his life to save people from the inseparable breach that sin creates between them and God. And he knows, too, that "since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you" (Jn 15:20 NLT). Through Jesus' suffering we draw comfort from him who shares in all human suffering; our God who stands with and for us in both adversity and need.

The Prince of Peace reveals the Strength compass point of Jesus' personality. As God’s reigning Messiah who overcomes sin and the devil to inaugurate the kingdom of God, Jesus alone can say, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (Jn 14:27).  Jesus is the source of a believer's Strength, a confidence balanced by trust in the Lord and sensitivity to others.

Jesus gifts humanity with a redemptive psychology of personal and relational transformation, and lives within us to empower our healthy personality transformation throughout the lifespan.

For more on how the Self Compass forms a dynamic living connection between you and Christ, see:  

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