‘Profiling Can Help You Become More Like Jesus,’ Colorado Pastor Says

CHICAGO, IL — A pastor from Colorado is encouraging Christians to practice profiling as a means of expressing their faith. It’s not about a person’s race or ethnicity, however. Much to the contrary, it’s about connecting with others on a spiritual level and approaching them as Jesus would.
“Profiling raises the specter of racial prejudice, ethnic cleansing, hate crimes and putting people into boxes. All of these are evil and should make us feel dirty,” says Tom Hovestol, pastor of Calvary Church in Longmont, Colo., and author of Spiritual Profiling: How Jesus Interacted With 8 Different Types of People … and Why it Matters for You (Moody).
Instead, Hovestol set out to understand whether people tend to gravitate toward identifiable spiritual expressions, and if so, why and how?
He explains, “Reading through the Gospels, I noticed how diverse the cast of characters was with whom Jesus interacted. And it struck me that He seemed to deal with different people differently. I wondered if there was any pattern to Jesus’ interactions.”
Using the Bible and other historical records—including Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, and The Mishnah, the record of Jewish oral tradition from the time of Christ—the author identified eight spiritual profiles. He studied every incident where Jesus interacted with an individual or a group from each of these spiritual profiles.
His findings? To his surprise, Hovestol discovered that Jesus dealt with each group differently—and consistently:
“Immediately, I recognized that Jesus’ world was far more religiously pluralistic than I imagined. He regularly rubbed shoulders with polytheistic and superstitious Romans, with philosophical and sophisticated Greeks, with party-hearty pagans and many others.”
Hovestol says the kinds of people Jesus dealt with in His world are not unlike people in our world today, including: the unchurched, the detached, the “Samaritan,” the traditionalist, the do-gooder, the truth seeker, the zealot, and the “mystery crowd.”
Through Spiritual Profiling, believers can become purposeful in representing Christ wisely, and well, in the lives of these individuals. In this way, Hovestol says, the work of Jesus will continue—and multiply.
He adds, “By exploring the eight spiritual profiles with whom Jesus interacted, we can learn to communicate effectively and respectfully with people from each profile, in the way of the Savior … who understands each and every one.”
Throughout the book, the author highlights aspects of each spiritual profile that Jesus would commend, and others that would concern Him. Each chapter also includes a series of questions that Jesus might have asked if we had lived in His day—questions that readers should ask themselves today.
Hovestol concludes, “It is my hope that people of all religious persuasions, the vast majority of whom will have a highly favorable impression of Jesus, will marvel, as I have, at His masterful ministry to every human being He encountered.”

Updated 08-26-2010

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