Will the Real Me Please Stand Up and Join the Real Jesus?

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As a child, Corrie ten Boom learned the ethical principles of Scripture. As a watchmaker and young adult, she examined them to see if they had any relationship to her life. She concluded that they did. She knew God’s law—do not deceive one another (Lev. 19:11)—and accepted the principle. It wasn’t until her middle life that she learned what it requires to put integrity into action. As the Nazi nightmare spread from Germany to her native Holland, she learned that it would take a passionate love for God’s chosen people to help her balance the law not to deceive with God’ command not to do anything that puts your neighbor’s life in danger (Lev. 19:16)

We live in an era that is nervous about ethical people with passion. Sometimes we try to dilute integrity and passion by making them part of a longer laundry list. A manufacturing company teams integrity and passion with understanding to attract customers and shareholders. An advertising executive spices integrity and passion with wit to peddle Portuguese chicken. A man recovering from a “negative life experience” adds capability to integrity and passion. A change maven advises supplementing integrity and passion with rebellion to get a life.

What is it about integrity and passion that all these successful types think they need help? In our postmodern culture, “passion” is whatever you say it is and “integrity” is left without definition. What if passion and integrity were left to keep company with each other without sharing the spotlight with other corporate virtues?

Superficially, passion and integrity seem like opposites, qualities we don’t expect in the same person. Many in the world admire Jesus as an ethical teacher but bristle at his passionate side. Witness the reaction to Mel Gibson’s new film, Passion. CNN proclaims: “Passion inflames tempers.” Let Jesus wander the hillside teaching nice catchphrases but keep him out of the temple or boardroom where he might lose his temper when he sees leaders perverting power.

Early in my career, I prided myself in never losing my temper with my staff. I was dispassionately clear about my expectations. One morning I fell asleep and dreamed that I was screaming at my staff. I concluded (since I was supposed to be praying at that time, not sleeping!) that God wanted to show me what I was like as a manager. Certain members of my staff with ethical shortcomings had no idea how angry their behavior made me. They heard my principles, but they never got to see how I felt about them. Until I got to see my subconscious feelings in action, I had no idea how to implement my standards.

I don’t need a Jesus who is simply an ethical teacher. I need a Savior who is willing to turn over tables if he needs to make a point. Neither do my coworkers need to guess what I’m feeling. Will the real me please stand up and join the real Jesus?

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