“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection.” –Philippians 3:10
In Jesus’s parable of the sower, the first seed that fails to take root is the kind that fell along the path and was devoured by birds. (Mark 4:3) Christ later explains the meaning behind this story: Satan snatches away the word of God from the hearts of those who initially hear it. The message of repentance and faith often doesn’t take root because sinners are deceived before they can believe. This is the non-germinating Gospel, and Satan can often perform his best Gospel-snatching on Sunday mornings, a small group, or even in our private Bible time.
For this reason, upon Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, Jesus exclaims, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 16:17) To believe in the Gospel and to live out our faith takes power. That power comes from the Holy Spirit. (Gal. 5:16) Tragically, in plucking away the Gospel, Satan often substitutes the message of power for the lie of personality. As a result, instead of believing Christ’s commands can be fulfilled by all believers through a power outside of themselves, many Christians today believe they are released from the obligations of many of Jesus’s teachings because of something inside themselves. That’s a lie from the Father of lies. The Gospel doesn’t preclude introverts from being lights to the world. Instead it calls us all to a life of power. Jesus takes our worldly weaknesses and turns them into power platforms.
In the Gospel of Mark, shortly after explaining the parable of the sower, Jesus asks, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.” (4:21-22) For a shy Christian who struggles with meeting new people and being seen by others, or for someone who prefers not to step outside their normal boundaries of safety and comfort, Christ’s words might sound a bit more daunting than most. Is Jesus calling introverts to put their lives on display before the world like a lamp on a stand? Yes. But Christ’s meaning has much more to do with power than with personality. Jesus isn’t asking the introvert to become extroverted. In fact, this passage isn’t about the way the world sees us. It’s not even about the way we see ourselves. It’s about who the world sees in us. Regardless of whether we think ourselves to be introverted or extroverted, our lives are inescapably social and public. (Matt. 28:19-20) Therefore a call to place our lamp on a stand is a call for the life and love and character of Jesus to overshadow our fleshly desires and to put them to public execution. To be a city on a hill is to live precisely as Jesus lived: to make our will God’s will. (Luke 22:42) To live by the power of the Spirit is to have light, and according to Jesus, light will always be seen – regardless of personality.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commands His followers to be “the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14) However, curiously, He also says in John 8 that He is the light of the world. (8:12) So which is it? Who is carrying the heavenly torch? In reality, it’s only by Christ’s identity in John 8 that we can properly understand our luminescent lives in Mathew 5. Our power is found in Jesus, not in our personality. Therefore someone who believes their “outgoing” personality and their friendly disposition is the basis of their Christian witness has seriously misunderstood the foundation of evangelism. Likewise, someone else who thinks their introverted personality disqualifies them from being a light to the world has also misunderstood the transforming work of Jesus. In Christ, God doesn’t necessarily change our personality; he changes our hearts. (2 Cor. 5:17) Whether extroverted or introverted, we all suffer from the same sin disease. Yet when we’re born again, this can often change our personality. God understands us better than we understand ourselves, and that means re-shaping the way we see ourselves and removing many of our objections to an enlightened life. However, God can magnify the brilliant light of Jesus just as much with an introvert as with an extrovert! A born-again sinner who doesn’t want to be put on a real stage has no problem putting Jesus on display instead. An introverted stay-at-home Mom who quietly disciples her children and lovingly serves her husband has placed her Christ-lamp on a stand. An introverted deacon who lacks the gifting to teach the Word of God publicly but who loves and cherishes that Word enough to love the sick at his church has put the lamp of Jesus on his stand. The Christian walk isn’t about our personalities. It’s about Jesus’s power.
Jesus has blessed His church with a variety of personalities for His glory and for our joy. Yet none of them has He crafted in such a way as to take away from the greater good of putting Himself on display. As those who no longer place our faith in ourselves, we gladly yield our personalities as platforms for the power of God in Christ.