The other day the magical algorithm that animates social media sent something my way titled “Introvert Bingo.” I prefer a movie night at home by myself. I made small talk with no one today. I had a pang of anxiety as I decided if I would answer my ringing phone. People are wonderful…and exhausting. BINGO! I’m an introvert. Somehow I find it comforting knowing that there are other introverted people out there, alone at home, quietly churning out introvert internet memes.
We are in the season of the Church Year that follows Pentecost, called Ordinary Time. It isn’t called Ordinary Time because it is plain but because the word ordinary is related to the word ordinal which means numbered. As the Church we are counting or numbering the days that we are given between the sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and Christ’s return. The other seasons of the Church Year are about the life of Jesus but Ordinary Time is about the life of the Church as we are sent out in to the world by the power of the Holy Spirit.
On my most introverted days, I don’t want to be sent to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, or anywhere else. I’d prefer not to be challenged, engaged, mussed, or directed. And I’m not particularly keen on being made part of a multitude of people with whom I have a common mission. But the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer does all of these things and more. There are no single person churches. Personal holiness that is untested by life in community and our mission in the world is not holy at all.
This week I read something by a very wise person who wrote, if you live in isolation you have no need of the fruit of the Spirit. The only way the Church can live together is by the flourishing of the fruit of the Spirit in the lives of Christians. We need love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control in order for all of our brotherly and sisterly relationships to work. The fruit of Spirit brings enables us to love each other well, even introverts.
The fruitful, spirit-filled life is only part of our post-Pentecost story. The ministry of the Holy Spirit means that God doesn’t pick the most skilled or naturally talented to share in his mission. He doesn’t chose a charismatic extrovert with a gift for public-speaking to be his mouthpiece and then leave the rest of his people to quietly stand-by. By the power of the Holy Spirit, God uniquely gifts each and everyone of us to be a part of his mission.
I am more than an introvert. I am called to count myself as a spirit-empowered member of the body of Christ with a distinct role to play. If I lock the door, silence my phone, and go back to my old ways, then I ignore the calling of the Spirit in my life and the Body of Christ is missing my gift. Sure, it is healthy and necessary for me to spend time by myself but I cannot to remain there. We number these days by keeping in step with Spirit and going where he sends us in the confidence the has gifted us for our common mission. To borrow a phrase from fellow introvert Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, like Powdermilk Biscuits, the Spirit “gives shy people the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.”