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I’m reading through 1 Chronicles at the moment in my own Bible reading. For those who might not know, 1 and 2 Chronicles give us a history of Israel and Judah during the time of the kings- think King Saul and King David up until the fall of Jerusalem. And as history, you would think that the content would mainly be narrative. It is, in parts. But much of 1 Chronicles is made up of detailed genealogies and lists: who was from which ancestry line, who served as a gatekeeper, who served as a musician, how many people joined David’s army from which tribes, and so on. I confess to skipping over a lot of those numbers and names, because it’s difficult to see much benefit in delving into the details.
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Now, many people have offered reasons for why we have this kind of content in the Bible, and there’s much about the historical and cultural context that sheds light on the question. Lots of good stuff if you dig in. But as I read, and struggled, through some of these chapters, I had another thought. The thought was: God’s Spirit inspired people who were wired for this kind of meticulous and detailed record keeping.
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Another confession: being someone who is more big-picture, overarching vision-oriented, I’m prone to thinking that people like me might just be more inherently “spiritual” than those who stress over details. I’m prone to thinking that my wiring is superior to others. But reading 1 Chronicles was a kind of gentle rebuke. Yes, God’s Spirit inspires and fills big-picture, visionary types- I’m sure John and Isaiah fit that description, for example. But He also inspires and fills very logical, rationally inclined people like Paul. And He inspires and fills meticulous record keepers like the author of 1 Chronicles.
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Maybe there’s a word for this. In a world with so many “-ists”, there must be one for the tendency to elevate certain personality traits above others. Characteristicist. That’s it. But God is not a characteristicist. His Spirit is poured out on men, women, the young and the old, and, if we can draw out the implications of Joel 2:28-29 (and Acts 2:17-18), on introverts and extroverts and all the Myers-Briggs personality types. The wide diversity of biblical authors is evidence of that. As is the presence of so many kinds of personalities and wirings in the church.
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The key in all of this is what Paul talks about in Ephesians 4:1-16: unity in the body of Christ. Even with our different “wirings”, we are united in our love for Jesus, in the common sharing of the Holy Spirit, and our joint desire to see God’s Kingdom break in and through us. If we can see the personality traits of others- even the ones we find irritating- as potential avenues through which Jesus can extend the reach of his body, we will be that much more able to glorify God together.
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