“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”~ 2 Corinthians 5:17
Being a new person sounds really nice. Previously, I’ve always been the first to declare that I find lots of hope in that I can change who I am, because, honestly, I don’t like who I am a lot of the time.
But there is another side to that verse which I have discovered in the past few weeks.
To live as Christians, we have to relinquish our personality, and allow God to change everything about us—even our identity.
That is frightening.
I am naturally anti-social, aggressive, blunt, and stubborn. It is part of my personality, and once I found out that I was an INTJ (Myers Briggs personality type), I had embraced it. This is who I am. This is my identity.
Only, as I have been reading the Bible, I have come across verses such as these:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~ John 13: 34-35
“I… beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love…” ~ Ephesians 4:1-2
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” ~ Galatians 5:13-14
Yikes. I need to be gentle? Loving people? But I hate being around most people! It is who I am.
It has been hard for me to come to this conclusion, but I know that God has a plan for me which is far better than anything I can imagine. And I also know that I currently am hindering His plan with my stubborn reluctance to give Him my personality.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” ~ Jeremiah 29:11
The funny thing is that no one ever mentions that God told the Israelites this just before they were exiled to Babylon as slaves for hundreds of years (verse 20.) So like the Israelites, God’s promises of hope and a future may not be immediate. In fact, pain, toil, and struggling might be what are coming first.
But God had promised Israel a Messiah and eventually an everlasting kingdom on earth and in heaven. And from what I have read in Revelation, that kingdom is going to be more incredible than anything anyone can imagine. Moreover, Israel was going to and now has received the Holy Spirit—God inside of them—who would guide them and be their helper and friend.
And I want in on it.
Sure, I am going to have to go through a lot of struggle as I give up my personality and God transforms me into a new person. But I think it will be worth it because I will be living in an amazing relationship with the Creator of the Universe, and I will share in Christ’s inheritance once I die.
In C. S. Lewis’ book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Aslan, or God, literally had to rip Eustace’s old skin off. But the biggest thing is that Eustace’s personality was completely changed. He no longer liked the books he used to or the things he used to love to do. He didn’t even have the same “friends.” Eustace completely changed, though not all at once, and now I want to change, too.
In closing, I want to ask you how exactly you are going to change and surrender your personality—the deepest part of your identity—to God. Below in the comments, I am going to post my practical goals of how I am going to change and how I am going to draw close to God so He can change me. I’d encourage you to do the same if you feel that you have been keeping your identity separate from God. Maybe we can encourage each other like Christians are supposed to do.
I know it is hard to open up. (For Pete’s sake, I am an INTJ. I defined being stoic and secretive about emotions and personal things. If you think this is hard, then I can almost guarantee that I am having more trouble with this.) But I think it will be worth it, because as the band “Unspoken” puts it, “You can never fall too hard, so fast, so far that you can’t get back when you’re lost. Where you are is never too late, so bad, so much that you can’t change who you are. You can change who you are.”
“Then the lion said — but I don’t know if it spoke — ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”[said Eustace]
“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.
“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .” ~ C. S. Lewis (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)