Easter and the Enneagram
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of the good news, i.e. the Gospel, of what God is doing in the world. Christianity centers on the resurrection, new life, the fact that death doesn’t get the final word.
I’ve heard it said, and I wholeheartedly agree, that the Gospel isn’t good news unless it’s good news for everyone. I believe that it is. I believe everyone can find hope, love, forgiveness, belonging, and transformation at the foot of the cross and at the door to the empty tomb. It is good news for everyone! So let’s take a look at how the resurrection is good news for each type on the Enneagram.
Good news: There was only perfect person – and he’s not you – and we killed him for it. The empty tomb tells us that we don’t have to be perfect to be loved and accepted. We don’t have to make everything just right in order to enjoy God’s blessing. We don’t have to earn God’s grace – we already have it.
Ones often see the world in binaries – black and white, good and bad, perfect and imperfect. The cross introduces the gray – the only perfect man didn’t make everything right in the way we would expect him to. He was the best that humanity could be, and he died because of it. And if the cross introduces the gray, then the empty tomb introduces the color. The story of God is so much bigger than right and wrong, dos and don’ts, thou shalts and thou shalt nots. Our imperfections are what make us human. We cannot become perfect on our own. We can never be good enough. But God has done all the work for us in setting the world to rights. Because of the resurrection, we get to be a part of bringing God’s good and perfect will into reality on earth around us. We can forgive ourselves and show mercy to others.
Good news: Your needs matter. Your emotions and feelings matter. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb validates the full range of human emotion and experience, including our own insufficiencies and needs. I think of the words the crowd yelled out, “He saved others. Let him save himself!” Twos probably feel that in their souls. But Jesus shows us there are times when we must rely on God alone.
Twos have a deep need to be needed. They thrive when others depend on them. This can become a really unhealthy dynamic in relationships if we aren’t careful. When we seek our validation by pleasing people and only feel as valued as our own ability to contribute and take care of people, then we often forget about ourselves. The resurrection reminds us that we are not God. God alone is to be relied upon for our greatest needs. The cross and resurrection lead us to surrender our need to be needed. We are forced instead to shift our focus on simply being in the presence of God. I’m reminded of the story of Mary and Martha (a classic Two). Jesus and the disciples were at their house. Martha got upset that Mary, her sister, was abandoning her in the kitchen and sitting at the feet of Jesus with the other disciples. Jesus rocks Martha’s world by affirming the choice Mary had made. Simply being in the presence of God is enough. God doesn’t need anything from us. He needs us. Rest a while in his presence.
Good news: You are loved for who you are, not for what you do or accomplish. The resurrection shows us that what may look like failure to the world can ultimately be used by God for great purposes. The cross allows us to die to the world’s definition of success. By all worldly measures Jesus was yet another failed Messiah. He had failed in his mission to overthrow Rome and assume the throne in Jerusalem. But what looked like failure was ultimately the greatest victory that could have been won.
Threes fear failure and have a strong desire to be (or appear to be) successful. They can be whoever they need to be in the moment to get the job done. Productivity and achievement are the whole ballgame. The cross allows us the freedom of downward mobility. Jesus is our greatest example of what it means to empty oneself of all privileges, distinctions, and honors. He hung out with the outcasts. He associated with the lowly. He bucked the traditional definitions of success, and became a servant of all. There is great freedom for Threes in downward mobility, learning how to lose and “fail.” The grave teaches Threes how to wait and sit without working or doing, simply being. And the resurrection shows us that the greatest success and victory isn’t won by our own volition, but in relying upon God to turn our failures into something beautiful.
Good news: You are not broken. You are not a misfit. You are a beloved child of God, uniquely gifted and wonderfully made. Fours are very comfortable with melancholy. They resonate with the description of the “Suffering Servant” as a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” The sorrow and bitter emotions of the cross may be where Fours are tempted to stay. There is a time and place for that “dark night of the soul.”
But there must also be resurrection. If we aren’t careful we can retreat so far into ourselves that we shut out the world. We get too comfortable with the darkness and seclusion. We mistrust the world while still wanting to be an accepted part of it. When Jesus was resurrected, he didn’t just become like everyone else. In fact, people didn’t recognize him at first. There was something uniquely different about the resurrected Christ. When we come out of that dark, sorrowful solitude of the grave into resurrection, we can fully embrace what makes us different and unrecognizable to so many. We can truly be who God created us to be, with all our flaws, quirks, idiosyncrasies, and imperfections. Let the life-giving Spirit of God fill that longing emptiness within you. Step out of that tomb into a new, fresh day.
Good news: You are competent and capable. You are safe. Relationships take risks, but they are well worth it. Fives, more than just about any other type, tend to close themselves off in relationships. They aren’t very in tune with their emotions or those of others. They can feel intimidated by feelings and vulnerability. They tend to be more at home in the realm of academics, knowledge, and expertise. They like to know something about everything and everything about something. They tend to be more analytical and “logical” in their processing, because there is safety and security in knowledge.
The cross can be detrimental to a Five, because the cross reminds us that the world does not work in a logical, systematic way. The innocent man was executed while the rightfully convicted man goes free. The cross of Christ is illogical. How much more so the resurrection! People don’t rise from the dead. The tendency of a Five may be to go in search of empirical evidence for the resurrection. But it’s not something that can be scientifically proven or historically validated beyond a reasonable doubt. Easter Sunday calls all of us, and especially Fives, to take that scary leap of faith into the unknown. Will you follow Christ to the cross? Will you sit with him in the tomb? Will you place everything on the line for the hope of resurrection? The good news for Fives is that there are some things that defy explanation or logic. But we can gain experiential knowledge of Christ by participating with him in his death, burial, and resurrection as we follow him.
Good news: You are safe. There is nothing left to fear. You may be focused on the worst-case-scenarios. But guess what! The worst thing imaginable has already happened. Christ has been crucified. But there is life on the other side. You may try to prepare for the worst that life has to throw at you, but you can never be fully prepared for the unexpected tragic events. Fear is the enemy of faith. Throughout his ministry Jesus chastised his disciples for living in fear rather than living by faith. That’s the choice we all have to make. The resurrection of Christ shows us that we have nothing left to fear.
FDR famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But what are we do afraid of? Death. Pain. Suffering. Losing loved ones. Living in need. Sickness. Demons and forces of evil. Natural disaster. We probably have a list a mile long. But the death and resurrection blows all those fears out of the water. When we participate with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection, we know that we have already died. The worst-case-scenario has, in a way, already happened. We know that if Christ has been raised then we also will be raised to live with him. And nothing that we fear in all creation will separate us from the most important thing – the love of God in Christ Jesus. Fear and death have been conquered. Christ is victorious.
Good news: You can stop running. Sevens are a ton of fun to be around. They are often extroverted, the life of the party, with tons of stories to tell. They are always looking forward to the next big adventure. But there is a reason they are always moving onto the next thing. Sevens have a deep need to avoid pain. They are afraid that if they stay in one place, one situation, one job, one relationship, etc. too long then they will have to wrestle with the pain of their past.
The cross and the tomb force Sevens to sit with their pain, to be still and reflect on the darkness and brokenness of life. Particularly in this time of lock-down and quarantine, Sevens are probably going crazy. We aren’t able to go and do and plan and have adventures. We are forced into stillness. The resurrection tells us that true life only comes through the pain. There cannot be life without death. There cannot be joy without pain. There cannot be celebration of Easter without the devastation of Good Friday. Life is worth living and savoring – even the boring, the uncomfortable, the mundane. and the painful.
Good news: God will never leave you or betray you, even in death. You don’t have to fight anymore. You don’t have to take charge. You don’t have to be right about everything. I’m reminded of the story of Exodus when God tells the people of Israel, “You need only to be still. I will fight for you.”
Eights fear being betrayed and appearing weak or vulnerable. For Eights, all those fears are realized in the cross. Jesus was made to be weak. He was beaten and mocked. He was too weak to carry his cross. He was stripped naked and lifted up on the cross for all to see and judge. And after it all, Jesus cried out the words from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Weak, vulnerable, and forsaken. But the resurrection shows us that God can take our weakness and turn it into strength. Even though Jesus felt betrayed, he never really was. God may not be there for us in the way he wanted or needed, but God was there when he needed him. God allowed Jesus to go through the worst humanity had to offer, but resurrection awaited. When we are weak, then we are strong. When we are vulnerable, then we are most able to let down our guards, tear down our walls, and let people see the real us.
Good news: You matter. You are valued. Your presence is noticed and matters. Nines are able to see all sides and all perspectives. That can be useful tool, but it can also be disorienting. Nines can lose the ability to differentiate themselves and their opinions from those of others. When faced with potential conflict, many Nines would rather fade into the background than to face it head on.
In the cross we see the greatest Peacemaker face down the greatest conflict of all time – the conflict between the evil ways of the world and the good and true way of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus did not shy away from the confrontation he faced. He knew that true peace could only come from enduring the pain of the cross. He came to bring peace, but it was not in the way the world brings “peace.” The world brings peace by taking lives. Jesus brought peace by giving up his life. The conflict came to a head at the cross, and the victory was won through his death. He laid everything on the line. When we wake up to the injustices in the world and the battle worth fighting, then we can truly work for the things that bring peace. Peace is not necessarily the absence of conflict. True peace comes from those who are willing to lay down their lives in the effort. These peacemakers will be called Children of God. And if we share in a death like his, we know that we will also share in a resurrection like his.
So what do you think? If you know your Enneagram type, what is something you learn from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus?