It is confirmed to me more and more everyday that Christians fit a certain personality profile. I am not saying that I see evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit gently shaping the lives of God’s people to be more like Christ. I am saying that the Christian life in America (perhaps “the church life” is more accurate) generally attracts a certain kind of person, and generally excludes certain others.
People who like church are those who embrace traditional values and lifestyle and those who understand the world to be quite black and white. Those who embrace some ambiguity and complexity in life, seeing more shades of gray, do not find a comfortable place in the church.
This country is littered with people who fit into this second group, and have found the church to be an unfriendly place. We see people (even celebrities such as Jane Fonda and Anne Rice) who have found the way of Jesus to be compelling, but the mold of conservative Christianity to be a bad fit for them.
Those of us who have lived in this world of traditional, conservative, black and white Christianity for a long time can, often, not imagine any other way. We have equated our traditions, preferences, and personalities with Christianity. We see our live as the ideal way and subtly insist that others conform. We would most likely never acknowledge it verbally, but subconsciously we think all Christians should become more and more like us.
Is there room for those who do not fit the mold?
God has created an amazing diversity in the world. Some people are extrovert while others are introvert. Some people love math. Some people love nature. Some people enjoy organization. Others function best in seeming chaos. Some people are leaders, while others are followers. Some people are extremely artistic. Some people are extremely logical. Some learn by hearing. Others learn best by doing. Scripture even tells us that there is a diversity of gifts and personalities, which come from the heart of God, and we are at our best when we see the value of all of them and work in unity.
Scripture also tells us that this diversity is an expression of Christ (the Body of Christ). No one person can fully express Christ. We are even told that one part of the body cannot say to another part, “I don’t need you.”
Therefore, a church that only expresses one type of personality is an incomplete expression of Christ. We need everyone. We need conservatives and liberals, practical people and artistic people, introverts and extroverts, leaders and followers, structured and unstructured, men and women, rich and poor. Everyone.
Is there room in the church for those who do not fit the mold? There is certainly room in the Kindom of God. We better start making more room in the church.