A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“Suppose a person who knew nothing about salt. You give him a pinch to taste and he experiences a particular strong, sharp taste. You then tell him that in your country people use salt in all their cookery. Might he not reply ‘In that case I suppose all your dishes taste exactly the same: because the taste of that stuff you have just given me is so strong that it will kill the taste of everything else.’ But you and I know what the real effect of salt is exactly the opposite. So far from killing the taste of the egg and the tripe and the cabbage, it actually brings it out. They do not show their real taste until you have added the salt (p. 224-225).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Is there one prototype Christian personality? If the aim of every Christian is to be Christ-like, is there an idyllic “Jesus personality”? If every Christian is supposed to manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), does this list represent the temperament of the Holy Spirit?
It would be tempting, on the basis of logic, to say, “Yes, that makes sense. I think there would be.” But if that were the case then some people would have a genetic advantage or dispositional advantage in their walk with God – calm people, social people, smart people, charismatic people, etc…
But Lewis’ quote helps us avoid taking that line of thinking too far.
No doubt, like the taste of salt, the teaching of Scripture is strong. If “tasted” apart from the people it was meant to “season,” one would assume every genuine Christ-follower would be just alike. However, that is not the function of God’s Word.
God gave the Bible to draw out of each person the unique gifts and passions He placed in those individuals for the purpose of advancing His kingdom. In light of this reflection, read I Corinthians 12:4-11 (ESV).
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
The same Spirit who gives us uniform character qualities gives us diversity of gifts. Love, joy, peace, patience, and the other fruit of the Spirit would take on different qualities when they are expressed by someone strong in wisdom, faith, hospitality, etc…
The same God who calls us all to be like Christ, also made us male and female, with different cultures, with different passions, and many other differences.
In this sense, God is like every other Father (biblical images are always the most illuminating). While a father has many children who all bear his image, each one (even if they are twins) have unique features that make them distinguishable and special. Anyone who knows the family well can both tell you who their father is and tell you what makes each one unique. There is not contradiction or tension.
To see the first 100 posts in this series click here.
If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Personality” post which address other facets of this subject.