Several years ago, our Christ Presbyterian Church staff did a Myers-Briggs related exercise together. Part of the exercise included listing all of the well-known people who share our specific personalities. As an INFJ, I discovered that I share a personality with both Jesus and Gandhi.
My first thought was that prior to this exercise, I had not known that Jesus and Gandhi took the Myers-Briggs (Hehe). My second thought was one of curious bewilderment, because another, much less Jesus- and Gandhi-like figure was also an INFJ. His name was Adolf Hitler.
Whether hyperbolic or real, the alarming results of this exercise should point out the obvious for anyone who has read and believed what Scripture says about the human condition. Within each of us, there is potential for heroic love on the one hand, and unspeakable evil on the other. In Genesis, the human heart is described in stark terms such as “wicked…only evil, all the time.” In the Psalms, the virtuous David and Paul assert without hesitation that “there is no one who does good; not even one,” and in his masterful book, the prophet Isaiah says similarly, “our most righteous deeds, even, are as filthy rags.” One one occasion, even Jesus put relational boundaries around his life and heart “because he knew what was in the heart of man.”
I am both haunted and comforted by these words from Brennan Manning:
When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.
There is also this haunting assessment from Solzhenitsyn:
The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart…even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains…an uprooted small corner of evil.
Thanks to ideology the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing calculated on a scale in the millions.
Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth. Yet, I have not given up all hope that human beings and nations may be able, in spite of all, to learn from the experience of other people without having to go through it personally.
As I look back on my days in seminary, I can do so with a degree of awe as I consider how God has used so many of my classmates for good. Two of them are pastors with me at our church in Nashville. Another of them worships and serves at our church, and has spent well over a decade impacting college students not only at the university where he serves, but nationwide. Some have written books, while others have become outstanding counselors and pastors and thought leaders. Some teach at the university level, and others at the very seminary from which we all graduated.
There are also a few others from our class, however, whose stories have included adultery, divorce, abandoning their families, using illegal drugs, and leaving Christianity altogether.