Multiple Personality Design – DDWJWD Part4

Even if millions of Jesus clones could somehow produce a functioning society, his example would still fail to address the vast array of choices and experiences even within the life of one individual. Consider this admittedly-hard-to-follow quote from the singular mind of John Oman:

But, when we imagine that we can finally direct our lives by mere imitation of the life of Christ, we fall into a misleading and distracting encyclopedic estimate both of Christ’s life and our own. How, we are asked, can the life of Jesus have been perfect? Was He interested in art? Did He concern Himself about public service? Are we in our complex time to have no other interests than sufficed for His simpler age? And then we find that many interests which have nourished themselves from His spirit, are ruled out by His example.¹

We just don’t have enough information in the Gospels about the life of Christ nor did the life of Christ encompass enough experience for it to serve as a pattern to shape the behavior of every believer. This flaw would besmirch the wisdom of God if it were not for one glorious fact – God wants each of his children to be a unique individual and not a Jesus clone.

office jesus large

Have you ever seen one of those families where every member favored every other? When you see one of them out in public away from the rest of them, you know immediately that they must belong with that family. Yeah, we’re not those people. My wife and I look different from each other and I suppose that has resulted in all our kids looking pretty different from each other. Not only do they all look different, but they all also act differently. My two sons especially differ from each other as much as any two people anywhere in the world. One likes to be clean, the other likes to get dirty. One likes to build; the other likes to destroy. One can be gentle to a fault; the other would pick a fight with Leroy Brown.

We love both of our sons. We love the things that make them unique. We’d never want the younger one to be more like the older one or vice versa. We like their differences. God’s that way too.

Every person is unique and that’s a good thing. A cursory observation of creation reveals God’s desire for diversity. Belief in creation colors our worldview to value the whole spectrum of human variation. When God crafted beings to bear his image on this planet he made them diverse:

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 emphasis mine NAW)

When we use the word, “image,” we often mean something like, “exact likeness,” such as with software, in photography, or when we say, “That boy is the spitting image of his father.” God’s image, though, must be expressed through variety. Perhaps that’s because part of the character of God is a love for diversity. God began humankind with diversity and has tended to our growth as a species to produce further diversity. As a case in point, consider this excerpt from Paul’s sermon to the Athenians:

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. “For in him we live and move and have our being.” As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.” (Acts 17:26-28)

In other words, God orchestrated racial, ethnic, and cultural differences between people because he’s big enough for all his children to find him in their own way.

Please don’t misunderstand; I’m not espousing pluralism any more than Paul did. In context, Paul used this truth about God’s superintending the diversification of humans to affirm that he can’t be worshipped through idolatrous practices. God loves diversity, but it doesn’t follow that he loves everything. The point remains, God’s children come in all shapes, sizes, preferences, and propensities.


The life of Jesus as recorded in the four Gospels can’t possibly accommodate these differences. When we encourage people to reproduce the life of a thirty-something, male, Jewish, carpenter-turned-itinerant-preacher, we promote uniformity over diversity. Nothing could be further from the message of Scripture or the gospel.

I used to host a Meetup for religious defectors. One time I asked an atheist ethnic Jew what made him abandon his faith. He told me that he was born with mild cerebral palsy and that as a child he had to go through eight hours per day of intensive therapy. To maintain their existence and his therapy, his parents recruited strangers from the community to come into the home and help him a day at a time. He explained, “As I’ve thought about all of those people who gave up their time to help a stranger, I realized that good people come from all kinds of backgrounds. I just couldn’t accept that we Jews could be God’s chosen people when there were so many good non-Jews in the world.”

I responded, “It’s interesting that you say that because I was just reading in Joshua 5 where Joshua meets ‘The Commander of the Lord’s Armies’ and he asks him, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies.’ Now, if I was writing a tribal narrative about how the Jews are better, I would have had the angel respond, ‘For you,’ but that’s not how it goes. Instead, The Commander says, ‘Neither.’”

At that point, a young lady who was also an atheist, but former Baptist, let out an audible gasp. She did not expect that response either. Critics of the Bible want to cast it as dogmatic and racist, but nothing could be further from the truth. God didn’t institute the nation of Israel, so everyone could convert to Judaism; his work with that race had the redemption of all nations as its aim.²

This doctrine of diversity becomes nonsensical if we must hold up one expression of human life as the gold standard. How can we do what Jesus would do by leaving baby penises in their natural state or by working on Saturday or by eating pork? These issues divided the early church, but the apostles all came down on the side of diversity.³

God created humans in diverse forms. Then he orchestrated the development of humanity to produce a myriad of expressions. Then, he called people in a variety of circumstances to reflect his image within those circumstances. Not only didn’t he require them to become Jews, he also didn’t require them to change much of anything except for their self-reliance. Consider Paul’s counsel to those in Corinth:

Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.
Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. (1 Corinthians 7:17-24)

It’s hard to imagine clearer instructions not to do what Jesus did than this one. Paul asserts that God endorses our circumstances when he calls us in them. Gone are the days of leaving nets and abandoning occupations to follow an itinerant preacher. Now, God wants to demonstrate his redeeming power in husbands, wives, Jews, Gentiles, accountants, doctors, IT professionals, technicians, and even lawyers.

God wants everyone to be conformed to the image of his Son, but that image cannot be confined to the life of one man who never married or raised children and died before reaching middle age. Christ requires that those who come to him lay down their life, but only so he can give it back redeemed and released to fully shine in all its unique hues.


  1. Oman, John. Grace and Personality (Kindle Locations 2872-2876). Kindle Edition.
  2. Deuteronomy 4:5-8; Isaiah 49:5-6
  3. Acts 11:1-18; 15:1-35

Grin and Bear It


One day at my old job I was assigned to load an “Over 70” trailer. For four hours I pulled packages that weighed at least 70lbs from a belt and loaded them onto a trailer. The next day, I came into work and lifted an ordinary package. My back immediately seized and my body locked in a half-erect stance. Following policy, I immediately reported the incident and was sent to Scotty, the center manager.

When I got to his office, he spoke first, “Are you sure you hurt yourself here?”

“Well, I spent all day yesterday lifting Over 70’s and first thing this morning my back went out, so I think I can guess what caused it.” I shot back.

“But you don’t know that it was an on-the-job injury. I’ve pulled my back leaning over in the shower or rolling over in bed.” He affirmed.

“Oh, come on…really?” I rebutted.

“I don’t think we can count this as an on the job injury. You can go home unpaid or take light duty today if you think you’re hurt too bad to do your regular work. That’s about the best I can do.” Was his definitive reply.

At this point, I’d worked for the company for thirteen years. I had been an exemplary worker (no, literally, they once punished a guy for laziness by making him watch me work). Now, after requiring me to work under unsafe conditions for an entire shift, they were going to make me take the fall for being hurt. At that moment I realized that to the company and to my superiors I didn’t matter. Nothing I’d given to company accrued the least bit of credit in their minds. At this moment they only saw me as a potential workers’ comp claim.

I opted for light duty still fuming over Scotty’s response. I shared the whole exchange with a coworker who became as livid as I was over it. Then, I remembered 1 Peter 2:18-25:

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

I shared with my coworker that in obedience to the example of Christ I planned to work even harder for the company and not take any kind of retaliatory action. He protested, “What?! You’re just going to roll over and take it?”

He was dumbfounded and a little disgusted.

The gospel of Christ teaches us how to deal with bad bosses.

If we’ll let it, the gospel will calibrate our expectations to insulate us from those moments of confusion and outrage.

The cross of Christ indicts humanity as sinners in need of a savior. Bosses are sinners and that sinful drive will determine their actions, especially if they haven’t been regenerated by the Spirit of Christ. This gospel awareness will arm us for the barbs hurled at us from the sinful hearts of others. When our boss makes a decision that benefits him and harms us, we won’t get rattled, because we knew he was a sinner to begin with.

The acknowledgement of human sinfulness doesn’t stop with our boss, though. His actions remind us of the person we were when Christ found us and who we still are should he not hold us up every minute. Seeing our boss as a sinner doesn’t mean that we judge him as inferior to us but as just like us. Christ’s indictment on sin from the cross takes away any pretention to superiority for all time.

Paul directed Titus to coach the church in Crete along these same lines:

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. – Titus 3:1-3


Christ died on the cross to save us from a sinful world which is alienated from the life of God. The gospel will teach us that when we go into our workplaces, we shouldn’t expect pleasant experiences or fair treatment. We go every day into a fallen hellscape. We go not to be successful, happy, effective, recognized or any other career goal we might set for ourselves. We go to work to do battle with the forces of evil by blessing those who curse us, doing good to those who injure us. That’s the job. The rest of it is just context. If we get called out in front of everyone and face vocational consequences for just doing our best, we’ve just received a new assignment to show the world what gospel-shaped living looks like.

In addition to setting our expectations for our workday experiences and interactions, the gospel also empowers us to serve joyfully for the long haul.

Going to a toxic or unproductive work environment every day can crush our souls over time. According to the gospel, Christ, our Lord, was treated like a criminal even though he was the only innocent person to ever live. By his passion, he has forever sanctified unfair suffering as a sanctuary where his devotees can meet with him. Standing on the carpet before our boss can become an opportunity to experience Christ in a very real way. Injustice becomes a door to the divine.

Not only do we experience the grace of Christ through unfair treatment, our serene response will testify to the truth of our message. What more unnerving evidence of the truth of the gospel could their be than joyful acceptance in the midst of a tongue lashing?

Beyond the grace that flows from the cross into our difficult work relationships, the resurrection provides power to endure for the long haul. It’s one thing to withstand periodic unfair treatment. It’s quite another to pour our energies into a toxic work environment for years. Bad bosses kill careers. That’s the way it is. They often place unqualified people in positions of influence for their own personal reasons rather than based on merit or for the sake of the overall good of the business.

Christians who continually get passed over for promotions or have their achievements ignored because they refuse to join the “good ole boys” club feel the pain of passing time and the futility of their efforts. Some might suggest a job change, but that’s often not the best solution. At UPS, I was paid way more than the market mandated. I just had a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and I had a family to support. Leaving wasn’t an option. I’ve also watched people hop from job to job and every time the story was exactly the same. They left one “unfair” situation to land in another one which they would subsequently leave. After a while, people start to look side eye at your resumé if you do that long enough. Potential employers will begin to infer that you are the common denominator.

In a sinful world every workplace will feature some injustice, but the resurrection tells us that this world isn’t our destination. We don’t need to accomplish anything here. When Jesus told his disciples that he was going to Jerusalem to get crucified, Peter objected. I think he saw the potential in Jesus and couldn’t fathom that potential being taken from the earth. That’s what murderers take from people – their potential.

I sympathize with Peter, but I shouldn’t. Jesus called him, “Satan” for his concern (Matthew 16:21-23). God doesn’t need our accomplishments; just our complete trust. Only three years into his career, at the zenith of his influence, he willingly laid down his potential on the cross. The author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us why he did it:

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1b-2)

Jesus didn’t need to protect his own interests. He could completely abandon them to his Father and relinquish his very life for the joy set before him. What’s more, he calls us to follow him along that path.

We can overcome a world run by self-interested jerks through daily abandonment of our own interests into the hands of God, our faithful Father. As the difficulty of the daily grind begins to wear on us, we can find new strength in contemplating the gospel. According to the author of Hebrews, we should, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:3)”