Friday, July 12, 2013

Our Personalities: Christian and Olympian

Perhaps the most common understanding of human nature is to think of ourselves as having one unified personality. Our personality may be good or evil, it may be more or less integrated, it may be developing or decaying, it certainly has strengths and weaknesses, but it is more or less continuously identifiable as ours over a long period of time.

Let us consider, however, the possibility that each one of us, from cradle to grave, has at least two distinct personalities: one Christian and the other Olympian. Let us consider that we each have these two quite distinct personalities because each one is organized around absolutely different gods.

Jesus is the source, norm, and goal of all truth, freedom, love, and vitality. Associated with him is a distinct set of stories found first in the Bible. Associated with him, and growing out of these stories, is also an integrated set of doctrines consisting of certain beliefs, values, norms, and goals. These stories and doctrines give form to our Christian personality.

The six conventional gods are the source, norm, and goal of those stories and doctrines associated with them. These stories and doctrines give form to our Olympian personality.

Because Jesus differs absolutely from the six conventional gods, the stories and doctrines associated with him differ radically from those associated with them. Because the stories and doctrines are radically different, the personalities formed by them are radically different also.

As Christians, our goal is to strengthen the clarity and consistency of our witness to Jesus. We do this by purposefully developing our Christian personality and by purposefully weakening our Olympian personality.

This personal and spiritual development is a process. We develop our Christian personality by forming new Christian habits and by weakening old Olympian habits. At any given moment, we think, speak, or act in a way which expresses our devotion either to the one odd god or to the six conventional gods. At any given moment, then, we are strengthening a Christian habit or weakening it.

This process of personal and spiritual development is also difficult. We all live in an Olympian context; in a context, that is, that rewards Olympian conformity and punishes Christian nonconformity.

Churches should be places where Christian thinking, speaking, and acting are rewarded. Sadly, they have become as Olympian as other social groups. They perversely punish Christian behavior and reward Olympian behavior.

Let us work with one another, then, to form small prophetic mission groups of at least two but no more than twelve participants. Our first purpose in creating such groups is to create a community which encourages us to strengthen and express our Christian personalities and to weaken and eclipse our Olympian ones. Our fuller purpose is to then participate, two by two, in a local Christian community in order to break the spell of the gods over it and strengthen its witness to Jesus Christ.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.