A question I like to occasionally ask fellow minister colleagues is: Was Jesus an introvert, or an extrovert? First off, let’s just make clear that extroversion and introversion are neither sinful nor blessed – they just are personality traits that cannot be changed any more than tiger stripes. So, setting aside the anti-reality kooky answers to my question, I’ve found that extroverted pastors almost without fail will tell me Jesus was an extrovert. And they make a solid case for it. Also, with solid consistency, introverted pastors tell me Jesus was an introvert. And they give compelling reasons for it. They are all correct. Jesus, as the perfect human displays the best of both extroversion and introversion. His personality comes through wonderfully in today’s Gospel text.
The short story of healing begins with Jesus fully engaged in walking the city, a part of the people, interacting with the crowd, and attentive to even the most marginal of them. His extroverted nature is on full display. Jesus, as the perfect Son of God, is willing and ready to heal the man with leprosy. As the word of Jesus spread, more and more people flock to Jesus. An exclusively extroverted person would bask in the situation of having more people to connect with. But the story ends with the note that, instead of engaging the mass of people, Jesus would withdraw to quiet and deserted places in order to pray. No better description of an introvert could be said.
Jesus operated on this earth in a way that modeled and demonstrated how humanity was meant to live. Our Lord had consistent rhythms of human and divine engagement. That is, he spent time with people – lots of them. He talked and taught and healed and moved from one person to next with all the seeming random activity of the extrovert. But he also consistently withdrew and spent healthy amounts of extended time alone with his heavenly Father, deeply connected with him. We, too, need a good healthy rhythm of being with others in effective interaction, but also must spend time alone with God often and deeply.
Perhaps we would encounter more of the miraculous in our lives if we emulated the healthy rhythm of Jesus. For the Spirit works in and through us to continue the words and ways of Jesus on this earth to a mass of humanity that desperately needs him.
Loving Lord Jesus, I am in awe of your capacity to engage all kinds of people, as well as the Father. Let me be like you in the ability to move freely and effectively between human interaction and divine prayer so that the world is blessed. Amen.