Monday, January 6, 2014

The Age of Personality

I have been reading "Quiet: The Power of an Introvert" today. The author describes how American, even the world, culture went from a society of character to a society of personality due to the industrial revolution. "The times demanded someone who could sell themselves and anything else." With this the author said came the end of people being known by their integrity and birthed people making a good impression and having a memorable personality.

Do you know what I heard in this? I saw a culture who went from developing Christ within to putting forth a form of themselves to others. I saw a focus go from "us", to "me". I saw a mankind who became very obsessed with the concept of themselves who had once been consumed with the concept of others.

We can carry this over into the body with a preoccupation of who "I" am. If the focus is I, then we have lost sight of Christ. If the focus is "personality", then we have lost sight of Christ. If the focus is "us," then we have lost sight of Christ. What we truly need is a preoccupation of God.

Long ago we were created to be a society focused upon Christ within and without (outside of us, but within creation). We were created with eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to know. We were created for much more than "a personality." We were created for so much more than the selling of ourselves. We were created as conduits for the living Christ to live out His life in the grandest display of character and life the Godhead has ever seen. We are a living storybook.

Our culture is driven to know one another by what we do. Mankind is very interested in doing, in striving. For example when I ask you to think of prominent men today what will jump to most minds is Bill Gates or Steve Job or Mother Theresa or some NBA star or Hollywood actor. People known by striving and accomplishing achievements. Peoples of personality.

In the Lord's mind people are known by who they are. Who is a matter of what is lived out from within a person. If I ask you for a prominent person from the Bible you most likely will think of Martha, Moses, David. Men who were known by the who they were within. Peoples of character.

Did these men do great things? Yes, but it came from who they were within ... A place of Christ, not striving or self-work.

The Abkhasians, Vilcabambans, Okinawans, Bushmen, Pygmes, and countless other "tribal" cultures managed for a long time to maintain a culture based upon being a people of character. Their cultures, world renowned for most of their population being centenarians, is sadly overlooked for another remarkable aspect of their society; one-anotherness. The culture of these "primitive" people are not based upon successes, material possessions, land owned, hard-ships, good experiences, or accomplishments in parenthood, marriages, jobs, or successful crops. 

Rather the culture of these "primitive" people is based upon their relation to one-another. They know one another by how they treat one another. The mark of a "good citizen" is directly linked to how they care and relate to one another. Their form of relating? To love, comfort, care, and give freely to one another. To know and be known by one another. To live life together in every moment to the fullest. By this they have life. Not just life; but a long, full, healthy life. What a picture of the Godhead and the body of Christ!

If there is need in their villages they are welcome to enter, without knocking, into each other's homes and take what they need, regardless if the neighbor is home. There is no theft, there is no crime whatsoever. In fact if a child's parents die they are never orphaned. The community takes them in raising the child as their own. There is never a question of who will take care of the orphaned child or the elderly. Why? Because it is considered a standing of honor to receive the least and the wisest.

A society built upon one-anotherness and who people are within is so foreign to the American culture that I am at a loss to even fully grasp it. There is one part I grasp fully, that is my intense longing to experience a culture such as this. To experience a life such as this. I dream of our culture losing all of its modern conveniences and returning to an age where personality does not matter, but rather who we are within.

Why? Because I truly feel that this is a great display of Christ in us. In our age it is quite difficult for one to see Christ in a person past the facade of personality one has built their entire lives. That facade of personality, "the ability to be instantly likable upon first meeting," is so hard to put to death. Die it must if we are to let Christ live through us in all things.

See when we have a personality, Christ cannot be portrayed. When we have a personality we keep Christ from taking first place. Rather its our own personality, which is sadly so very empty in every meaningful way, that has first place, first recognition. 

What would it be like to live in a society where the Christ, the character, within was what we looked for and developed? If all eyes were trained to view this instead? Its a problem that has plagued man for a long time, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the inward motives of a man's heart." Civilization means mankind with their various "personalities." The result? According to the book, anxiety scales out of control (anxiety medication was introduced and became very popular around the beginning of the age of personality). 

When our focus is what is within us, not what we can portray on the outside to others, we gain peace, life, joy, and hope. Christ is the life, peace, joy, and hope within us to be poured out to all amongst us. By this inner well pouring out we experience a beautiful one-anotherness where our lives are of Christ within and between. Personalities simply keep a facade in place that prevents our receiving from one another, from giving, but most importantly keep Christ from deepening within us.

I long to know a people by who they are, not merely what they have done or their "charisma". Doing seems so trivial in my mind. Personality seems so fleeting. If we would waste ourselves upon Christ, everything of who we are as Martha did with the precious perfume, we would behold a Christ who is foremost, first in all things, and His fullness would fill the earth in all things.

A dreaming individual.