PERSECUTED | 40 Days of Focus, Day 25

 

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 | NIV) 

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
(Matthew 5:10 | The Message)

Most of us have no idea what it really looks like to be persecuted. We’ve all experienced bullies and jerks. We’ve all face insults and passive aggressiveness. But real persecution is deeper than that. Persecution arises out of fear and a lack of understanding. We fear that which we don’t understand. We cannot love that which we fear.

One of the most misunderstood types on the Enneagram is Type 5 – the Observer or Investigator. Fives have a deep inner commitment to truth and knowledge. They would rather sit back and people watch than actually engage in social interactions. They read the Encyclopedia for fun as kids. They are typically the type of people who know a little bit about everything and everything about something. The pursuit of knowledge and insight takes a high priority in their lives, to the point that they can seem aloof or standoffish. They tend to act more introverted than most other Types.

As such, they can be hard to relate to. They may be able to talk your ear off about differentials or automatic transmissions, but might not be up to date on the latest Marvel movies.

They are passionate about getting things right and doing things right. When they gain interest in a subject, they tend to go all in. They can be some of the best researchers, scientists, and engineers. But they might not be the “best” spouse, friend, or coworker. This can lead to ostracism and misunderstanding.

And we fear that which we don’t understand. We cannot love that which we fear. We mistreat that which we do not love.

Fives can feel persecuted because of their beliefs, values, and hoard of knowledge. They can feel left out, excluded, and unwelcome. That is…if they ever admit to these feelings.

An example of a Five in Scripture facing some level of persecution is Nicodemus. He appears three times in John’s Gospel. First he has a nighttime conversation with Jesus in which Jesus challenged everything he thought he knew about God. The second time we see him, Nicodemus is standing up for Jesus, pointing out that their own law prohibits the leaders from arresting Jesus without cause. They all turn on him and begin to ridicule him – even though he was simply stating facts, using his knowledge of the law to defend Jesus.

People don’t really like know-it-alls. That’s the boat most Fives find themselves in more often than we realize.

It’s important for all of us to do a better job getting to know one another. You cannot love your neighbor if you are afraid of them. You cannot overcome your fear of them if you don’t take the time to know and understand them. That’s what we all want, really – to know and to be known; to love and to be loved. And that’s what the kingdom of heaven is all about.
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Do you know any Fives in your life? How might their knowledge come into conflict with their relationships?


What is our typical response when someone else points out where we’ve gone wrong? Even though they’re right, why do we react negatively?


Is there a person or group of people you’re afraid to get to know? Why? What steps can you take this week to reach out to them?

3 Benefits of the Enneagram

If you’ve been paying attention to Christian books, podcasts, Twitter, and YouTube, then I’m sure you’ve at least heard of something called the Enneagram. You may be familiar with it, or you may have no idea what that term means. I’m no expert, and I’ll direct you to some helpful resources in a coming post. But for now, I want to mention just three key ways my life has improved because of this tool called the Enneagram (inn-ē-uh-gram).

1) The Enneagram has introduced me to myself.

At its most basic, the Enneagram is a personality typing system. You may have taken some kind of personality assessment before, like the Meyers-Briggs (I’m an ENFJ, whatever that means). The Enneagram spells out nine different personality types represented by a number along a circular figure. Each number represents a different way of viewing and interacting with the world.

You may wonder what’s the big deal. But it’s more than just picking a number or taking a test online. As you’re reading through the descriptions of the numbers, there will come a point when you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut. You’ll get a sinking feeling in your stomach because suddenly you feel exposed for all the world to see. The Enneagram knows your deepest fears, shortcomings, and desires. The Enneagram knows how you react in stress and how you react in security. It reveals healthy and unhealthy patterns of behavior that creep up in your life.

I remember having that experience. I identify as a dominant Type THREE, sometimes called the Performer or Achiever. In times of stress, according to the Enneagram, I take on the unhealthy characteristics of a Type NINE, the Peacemaker. As I read the description of what that looked like, my jaw dropped. I think I got goosebumps. I felt nervous – in my bedroom alone reading this to myself. The way it described a THREE in stress was exactly what I found myself doing when I was going through times of “disintegration,” frustration, and stress.

It was like I was finally seeing myself clearly in the mirror for the first time. Warts and all. It isn’t a fun process. You may not like what you learn about yourself. But somehow you will know it’s all true.

2) The Enneagram has given me a new language.

I’ve never really been good at emotions and feelings. Chalk that up to being a THREE, I guess. But the Enneagram has given me a whole new vocabulary with which to communicate more clearly about my feelings.

Katelyn and I have been married for almost ten and a half years. We dated four and a half years before that. We’ve known each other for over fifteen years, and it’s just been in the last couple of years that we have really started to understand each other. She has learned things about me that I didn’t even know how to tell her – because I didn’t have the language for it. I’ve learned things about her that I never really would have known otherwise. We have been able to connect on a deeper level than ever because of the Enneagram.

Not only that, but it has helped me in my ministry. I work with teenagers full time. They are growing and developing their personalities at breakneck speed. They don’t know what’s going on inside them. But in listening to their stories and hearing how they describe themselves, their fears, their desires, their insecurities, I am better able to connect with them. The more knowledge I gain of the other eight types, the better I am to connect with people where they are and truly begin to understand what they’re going through and how they see the world.

3) The Enneagram has taught me what it means to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself.

The Nine types of the Enneagram have been called “The Nine Faces of God.” Each type reveals something of God’s own nature. Each type is also a path toward transformation in Christ. It’s not just a way of being, it’s a way of becoming who we were made to be. The Enneagram reveals the defense mechanisms we put in place to keep God and people at a distance. It also shows us what it looks like to break down those walls and allow ourselves to be fully known and loved.

The Enneagram is teaching me what it looks like to love God with my whole self, not just my intellect, not just my instincts, not just my emotions, but all of it. The Enneagram urges us to integrate head, heart, and hands. True worship and spiritual transformation is a process that includes thinking, feeling, and doing. Each of us is dominant in one area and regressive in another. Our task to to lean into the areas of weakness to become a fully integrated worshiper of God.

Through learning the Enneagram and confronting my “shadow side,” I am brought to a place of self-love and self-acceptance. Out of that place of inward health, I am better able to show love, grace, and forgiveness toward others. In other words, the Enneagram is a tool for developing empathy.

Jesus said the greatest command in Scripture is to love God with all you have and to love your neighbor as yourself. I have not found a more practical tool for learning how to love than the Enneagram.

Are you familiar with the Enneagram? What’s your Type? How has knowing the Enneagram helped you? Let me know in the comments below.