Today’s devotional: Conform to Christ, not other Christians

Is there a “Christian personality,” a set of personality traits that a Christian should exhibit? Certainly, there is a well-defined set of moral values that should define the Christian life—love, kindness, self-control, and others. But beyond sharing those core values with fellow Christians, should we adopt a specific type of personality as well?

Looking at many of today’s well-known Christian leaders and pastors, you might get the impression that to be an effective Christian means adopting their personalities: outgoing, unrelentingly cheerful, always optimistic. Not so, says Blaine Smith in this devotional—becoming a new person in Christ doesn’t mean sacrificing your individuality:

Ideas abound in so many Christian circles about the ideal Christian personality, and this is a major reason for our confusion. While it may not be taught explicitly that one personality type is more godly than another, stereotypes persist nonetheless. Many Christians assume that leaders, and other strong believers whom they admire, are closer to having the perfect Christian personality than they are themselves.

As a new Christian, I simply assumed that the extroverted leaders of our church college group, with their football coach temperaments, were displaying Gods personality standard. I disdained my own personality, which seemed too mild and reflective compared to theirs, and did what I could to emulate the personality style of these leaders whom I esteemed.

Our confusion about individuality also results from certain theological misconceptions about what it means to a have new life in Christ. Scripture teaches that we are new creations as Christians. Were urged to deny our old nature and die to ourselves, in order to be fully alive in Christ. From there, its an easy jump to thinking that we must deny what is unique about our own personality and individual potential, in order to be Christ-like.

Blaine cites Martha (the sister of Mary and Lazarus) as an example of a Christian whose unique personality was evident even after her acceptance of Christ. In fact, our personal quirks and interests can point to unique ways to serve Christ. Christ wants us to conform—but to his image, not to the specific personality traits of other Christians.

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