–Originally published on FWB21 September 9, 2011–
How do you portray Jesus? Well, simply put, you portray Him the way you perceive Him. Let me explain.
During this first week of training at CIT, we have taken tests to determine our personality and learning styles. Now, you may not put much stock in tests like these, but I think they are great tools for better understanding ourselves and why we each have certain tendencies. They can also help us to understand how to better relate to one another (as you will see).
During one of the small-group sessions in which we were grouped according to personality similarities, we were asked to discuss the things we admired most about Jesus. I found it interesting that everyone in our group admired basically the same qualities (His love and His perfect blend of grace and truth). Even more interesting was when we shared as a class–each small group tended to admire similar qualities within the group, but distinct qualities from other groups (humility, justice, selflessness/suffering, etc.).
Basically, it happens like this: we process information about Jesus through filters that are tinted by our personalities, our own strengths and weaknesses, and our learning styles. The Jesus we perceive is the Jesus we then portray to everyone else through our behavior and words. This is important because it affects our understanding of what being “Christ-like” actually means.
I have come away from this with two very significant impressions:
1) I appreciate more fully the diversity of the church, the beautiful body of Christ. Because I have blind spots in my perception, I gain much from listening to others as they speak of their own walks with Christ. If I am attentive, I just might get a glimpse of God in a way I’ve not seen Him yet.
2) I must rely on Jesus Himself to fully reveal Himself to me. As I was reading from the Gospels this morning, a phrase in John 21:1-14 stood out to me: “Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples.” Now, it seemed a bit odd to me that Jesus had to reveal Himself to His disciples–after all, they were the men who knew Him best! They walked closely with Him daily, and yet they still couldn’t see Him on their own! If they couldn’t do it, who am I to think I can figure Him all out? My prayer has become one of petition that Jesus would reveal a bit more of Himself to me through His Spirit each time I study His Word.
You don’t have to take a personality test to see your own biases in your perception of Christ. Chances are, if you really think about it or feel it out, you already know your tendencies. Just be aware that they influence your perception and portrayal of the gospel, then rely on God to give you eyes to see and ears to hear. We need Him more than we know.