He Creates The Categories
If you listen to a preacher long enough you will begin to figure out his or her unresolved issues. They keep coming up in sermons. Some subjects are repeated so often you’d think the preacher was following the advertising adage, “It takes six to stick.”
A lot of us who grew up in the churches of Christ and Christian churches speak often about grace, mercy, and forgiveness. During childhood we heard enough sermons about judgment to last several lifetimes. The problem with our approach to choosing sermon topics is that we are out of balance. The God of scripture is gracious and merciful and loving, but he can also be angry and elusive and rather particular about what he expects of us. He will not be categorized. He creates the categories. He does not fit into them.
When God came to earth he was just as confounding as he was when communicating from heaven. God was not liberal. God was not conservative. God made everyone angry.
I often use the DiSC test, a psychological tool that describes people by how they prefer to interact with others. The four categories of the DiSC are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Most people discover they have strengths in two of the four areas. For instance many senior pastors score with a high “D” and “I” on the test, meaning they are dominant influencers. On the other hand, many elementary school teachers score with a high “S” and “C” on the test, meaning they are conscientious and steady workers who prefer small groups.
Very few people question the findings of the test. Most feel it is very accurate. After we finish scoring the test I often ask what personality type various biblical figures had. Mention Peter and everyone says, “High Influence and Dominance.” Ask about Barnabas and they say, “High S and C – Steadiness and Conscientiousness.” Paul has a high “D” and a high “C.” He is dominant and focused on the details. Once you understand the test you can pretty accurately pick the personality type of anyone in scripture – well, just about anyone.
I always ask about Jesus last. Occasionally someone will suggest a specific personality type for Jesus- usually their own! Most people sit in stunned silence. Jesus is the only person I mention whose personality defies description. He is the perfect balance of all four types. And that would be my point.
We are made in God’s image, but we are not God. Only Jesus was. Only he was fully and perfectly human. So when it is time for me to preach the word, I would be well advised to let God be God and not edit his material to my own liking. I may not need to preach the 21st century version of Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, but I don’t need to be Thomas Jefferson either, tearing out the pages of scripture I do not like. A little balance will go a very long way.
And so it goes.