The Enneagram helps us to see the way we relate, but Jesus transforms the way we relate.
No one who encounters Jesus ever stays the same.
I’m not referring to a Jesus you create or that you project your desires onto. That isn’t Jesus; it’s just your type dressed up as God. That Jesus doesn’t contradict you or challenge you or help you. If you’re going to experience true transformation, you must encounter “the real Jesus.”1
In Jesus, we find more than our one-dimensional type; we find the most dynamic man who ever lived.
The True Reformer
The True Helper
The True Achiever
The True Originalist
The True Investigator
The True Loyalist
The True Enthusiast
The True Protector
The True Peacemaker
Though Jesus expresses the gifts of our type with purity, He is not merely a type. He is all the types and more. He has no False Self, no dark side, no twisted adaptations. He is the unblemished fullness of God and humanity. He is both our Savior and our Exemplar, sent by the Father for our sake.
Author Neal Lozano writes, “The Father’s heart is broken for you. He sent His Son to reveal His love and do whatever it takes to win back your heart. He longs to bring you Home. Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him; it was the joy of finding you. You are the one lost sheep, the penny, the son from Jesus’ parables. Jesus left Heaven to search after you.”2 Jesus wants to give us life to the fullest, to set us free from our False Self, to engulf us in his love so we may freely love others. Jesus wants to make dead people dance, prisoners whoop for joy in the streets, and the poor feel like they’ve won the lottery. Jesus has come to set you free.
However, to truly believe this, you have to trust Him. Has He earned your trust?
Trusting Jesus with Your Whole Self
We have trusted our idols and our deadly sins to save us. They have failed. They’ve made our life worse instead of better. To change our allegiances, we must transfer our trust.
As we said before, for someone to earn the right to guide us on major decisions in life, they must do two things: empathize with us and display their authority. If someone only empathizes with us, we find a listening ear but no proven path forward. If someone only models their authority, we find a solution but no love. When we believe someone understands our pain from firsthand experience and has demonstrated their authority about how to live life to the fullest, they will earn our trust and the right to guide us. (Empathy + Authority = Trust.)
Jesus both empathizes with our pain and proves His expertise on life and relationships. No one wants better for us than Jesus does. Who loves you more than Jesus? He alone is worthy of your complete trust.
In Jesus we can look at ourselves for who we really are. Only through Jesus can we look at reality without having it crush us.
Redemption of our True Selves happens in two primary ways: God heals our wounds and calls us to change the way we live. If we receive healing without repentance, we end up using God for our own gain — like the nine lepers who were healed by Jesus, never to return to Him (Luke 17:11–19). If we repent without being healed, we become legalistic. We have simply directed our wounds down a new path.
As James Cofield once told me, “We need to be healed from the sins done to us. We need to repent of the sin we do to others.” Both healing and repenting are key elements of new life. What, then, is the source for both?
The Gospel of Delight, Presence, and Grace
Our False Self is driven by our fear, guilt, and shame. We are afraid we will be hurt. We are culpable for our bad behavior. We are humiliated by our flaws. These three underlying realities have deformed our soul and our relationships. How can this disease in our soul be healed? God provides the antidote to this poison:
God heals our guilt with His grace. God heals our shame with His delight. God heals our fear with His presence.
Many explorations of the gospel emphasize our guilt before a holy God and His atonement for our sins on the Cross. The Scriptures teach in Romans 6:23,
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus sacrificed Himself for our sake. Through Jesus’ blood on the Cross, our sinful state is replaced with His perfect holiness. We receive His goodness in place of our guilt. This is the gospel of grace. What profoundly good news!
And yet we must remember it’s not the full picture. Though our guilt is addressed, our shame and fear often remain unhealed. We must also understand that God’s presence and delight are essential to our healing. A child who has been forgiven and yet still feels abandoned and insecure is hardly a child who has experienced good news.
In Zephaniah 3:17, we see God’s delight, presence, and grace converge in a single image:
in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.
The Triads reveal our existential questions in life. The Heart Triad asks, Who am I? The Head Triad asks, Where am I? The Body Triad asks, How am I doing? It is in the gospel that we finally find the answers to our existential questions:
Who am I? I am a child in whom God delights.
Where am I? I am secure in the presence of God.
How am I doing? I am free in the grace of God.
This is the wellspring from which we live.
Brennan Manning once wrote, “If you took the love of all the best mothers and fathers who have lived in the course of human history, all their goodness, kindness, patience, fidelity, wisdom, tenderness, strength, and love and united all those qualities in a single person, that person’s love would only be a faint shadow of the furious love and mercy in the heart of God the Father addressed to you and me at this moment.”3 We do not decide whether we are worthy of God’s love. In words attributed to Saint Augustine, “In loving me, You made me lovable.”4
Are you a sinner? Yes. However, many of you believe the deepest thing about you is that you are a sinner. That is not true. The deepest thing about you is that you are loved.
If you believe that, then a new way of relating can finally emerge.
The Enneagram Types as the Body of Christ
The apostle Paul writes,
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. — Romans 12:4–5
To live in the fullness of life, we need one another. We are each coals in a fire, burning brighter because of the heat of the others. Take us away from one another, and we grow dim and cold.
We have said that Jesus was the full embodiment of all nine types. He manifested the very best of each of the traits. When we stand alone, we are a dim and cold reflection of who he was. However, when we come together in a beloved community, we begin to reveal a clearer picture of Jesus to the world.
The One ensures the church reflects the righteousness and integrity of Jesus.
The Two ensures the church reflects the servanthood and compassion of Jesus.
The Three ensures the church reflects the vision and ambition of Jesus.
The Four ensures the church reflects the sensitivity and creativity of Jesus.
The Five ensures the church reflects the wisdom and contemplation of Jesus.
The Six ensures the church reflects the covenant and reliability of Jesus.
The Seven ensures the church reflects the joy and celebration of Jesus.
The Eight ensures the church reflects the protection and clarity of Jesus.
The Nine ensures the church reflects the peace and acceptance of Jesus.
In the church, when we show favoritism to one type over the others, we end up championing just one personality rather than the full image of Jesus. In order for the world to see Jesus, we must come together and value all the types and every member of the body. We’re at our best when we’re all together.
The world desperately needs people who are good at relationships. Why? Because the purpose of life is relationships. The world will know we are Christians by how we relate. Let’s go build better relationships.
- See Timothy Keller, “The Real Jesus Part 1: His Teaching,” Gospel in Life, September 8, 1996–October 27, 1996, https: //gospelinlife.com/downloads/the-real-jesus-part-1-his-teaching.
- Neal Lozano, Abba’s Heart: Finding Our Way Back to the Father’s Delight (Bloomington, MN: Chosen, 2015), 38.
- Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God (Colorado Springs: Cook, 2009), 42–43.
- Quoted in Manning, Furious Longing of God, 77.
- Tony Evans, Horizontal Jesus: How Our Relationships with Others Affect Our Experience with God (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2015), 114.
- John Calvin, Calvin’s Institutes: Abridged Edition, ed. Donald K. McKim (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001), 1.
Excerpted with permission from How We Relate by Jesse Eubanks, copyright Jesse Eubanks.
* * *
God’s desire for us is relationship with Him and with others. Jesus transforms the way we relate. He is the pure fullness of all of our personality types. The enneagram tool can help us know ourselves better — how we interact, our weaknesses and strengths — so we can know God better and be more like Him. Come share your thoughts! ~ Devotionals Daily