B Cycle – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time 15

I have to admit that there are some beliefs that people hold as absolute truth that get me very upset.  I first encountered one of those beliefs while I was running a division of a major corporation.  The corporate “human resources department” had convinced the top managers that every employee in its divisions should complete a Meyers-Briggs Inventory (MBI).   It was not the mandatory taking of the inventory that upset me.  It was the underlying reason for the information to become a part of the “employees file” that created my going into attack mode.

The Meyers-Briggs was developed to clarify the four personality types identified in the early 1920’s by Carl Jung.  Jung theorized that we humans experience the world through four functions – sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking.  The MBI developers took those four and further divided each area into four more distinct personality types. These sixteen four letter categories are used to describe our personality type, strengths and preferences.  Years ago companies began to use it as a tool to identify motivators, core values and strengths of its employees.  The MBI was to some “gospel truth” and became a widely accepted tool for career decisions.  Those who believe in the MBI will tell you that “you are what you are” and you cannot change your base nature.

This conviction about our inability to change who we are is what gets my blood boiling.  Let me give you a simple example of why I get upset at this kind of thinking.  Let’s say an employee of a MBI believer does something that could be a termination offence.  If the MBI profile says the thing they did was predictable, the most probable outcome is termination.  The profile became a predictor that foretold that a certain behavior or action was bound to happen. On the other hand, if the MBI indicates the thing they did was uncharacteristic of the person, then we could easily dismiss the incident as a fluke.

The fact is that the MBI “test results” can and does prejudice our thinking as we make decisions about people.  A believer in the MBI profile leaves no room for a true evaluation based on insights, work history and facts.  The MBI test identifies us by four letters that eliminates the use of judgment and our ability to change others by coaching or counseling.  The believers in MBI descriptions leave no room for an individual’s self-desire or what we often call heart. I can tell you without a doubt that people can and do change.

My belief in people being able to change was formed by my belief in the Word of God. We are not bound to behave as the series of four letters as Myers-Briggs describes.  But we as we embrace MBI philosophies are held captive to a lie that tells us we are sinners who cannot change.  God knows what he created is “good” and God desires for us to see ourselves with his eyes.  So our God constantly pursues us because he desires to change our vision of ourselves. He pursues us to change our hearts so we can live out the vision he has for us.  Paul tells us in Romans that we are “predestined to conform to the image of his son.” Our destiny according to God’s plan is to be Christ like here in the kingdom of God on earth.

We know God desires to change our hearts for that is a statement made to us by God.  We know we can change from sinners to saints, because that is the plan and promise of God.  We have witnessed it in the scriptures and in the lives of the saints.  What we need is to believe is that we too can have a heart on fire for God; it is our destiny also. Today we hear God’s word telling us “…whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come.”

God wants us to begin to depend on him to change us. God sent his Son to show us the depth of that desire and how he can change us into the men and women he created us to be.  Our problem is that we put more faith in things like Myers-Briggs, our astrological sign or handwriting analysis than we do in the Word of God.  What ultimately makes the difference in us is our beginning to understand how much we need to embrace Jesus.

The truth is that we know how many times we have tried and tried to rid ourselves of our “failing to live up to God’s standard.”  We know how many times we have fallen back into our old patterns of living becoming once again what we were. This is the “truth” that is foundational to the Myers-Briggs philosophy. That philosophy tells us we cannot change who we are. Oh they will acknowledge that we can shift a little within the four basic categories but we will never make a change from one quadrant to another.  We cannot make a change like an ENTJ becoming an ISFP.  It just is not possible, so Myers-Briggs disciples will teach us how to be successful as we are. When we buy into that lie we are eating the fruit from the “tree of knowledge” and we make the same sin as Adam.

God desires to have us eat from the fruit of the Spirit. To become new creations by acknowledging that apart from Christ we can do nothing.  We need to surrender to the fact that all we seek; our life, our joy, our peace, our destiny is found in Christ and Christ alone.

God tells us all things are possible with him.  Who is this God, who by a word calmed the storm winds; bringing order out of chaos?  He is a God who will not accept anything less than our surrendering our desire to make ourselves holy and allow his Holy Spirit to change us into the very image of his son.  How do we get beyond ourselves to allow God to change us?  Scripture tells us that we must confess “Jesus Christ as Lord” with our lips and believe it in our hearts.

I have been told that this kind of thinking is naïve for it is far too simple.  Is it naïve to believe in the words spoken by God?  I will contend that it is naïve to trust in the words spoken by those who would condemn us to a profile dictated by a test.  We are who we are as defined by our creator.  We are God’s glorious creation made in his image and likeness.  It is time to reclaim our birthright by embracing the life Jesus died made available to us by his death.

 

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