I had a well meaning Christian voice concerns about my reputation the other day. This got me thinking about what exactly the reputation of a follower of Jesus should be. It could be different than you think. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Does it make the religious nervous?
Somewhere along the line, “Christian” became synonymous with safe. Or the annoyingly polite neighbor who keeps his lawn mowed but you wouldn’t want to spend much time with.
This is not Jesus.
His first miracle was creating 140 gallons of wine for a party. He continually made the religious leaders of the day nervous and the sinner right at home. Never forget Jesus’ reputation was of someone who drank wine with crooks and prostitutes. The people least like Jesus were liked by Jesus.
I love that scene when a prostitute interrupts a dinner party Jesus was at and begins crying at his feet. (1) Everyone looks nervous… except Jesus. He couldn’t care less what they thought of him, he was to concerned in caring for the one. Never become more concerned with fitting into your church than looking like Jesus. If we call ourselves his followers, this inherently means we should go where he goes and Jesus goes to the places that make the religious nervous.
2. Is it generous?
The majority of Jesus’ miracles did not come about by pre-planned, strategic events. Instead, his miracles happened out of interruptions, inconveniences, and even annoyances. For whatever reason, people felt comfortable approaching Jesus at any time, and for any reason. He had a reputation of saying yes.
Apparently this is really important because Jesus says whatever we do for the least of these we really do for him.(2) Generosity is a very clear priority for Jesus and it has a way of correcting our posture as we walk through our day. We no longer cling to our stuff but release our grasp and open ourselves to what God is doing all around us. Where are you making “Christian” sounding excuses instead of saying yes to Christ?
3. Does it end well?
People aren’t stupid. When they look at our lives they have the ability to see where things are headed. They actually observe the trajectory of our lives and decide if this is a path that ends well. They are decided if this reputation is a pattern they’d like to imitate. No wonder Paul instructed a leader to have this kind of reputation. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”(3)
This is why I’m back on the treadmill because while I’m not really overweight yet, I am getting a belly. And it’s growing. I know it’s a small thing but it’s also not an example others want to follow. This pattern could end in a heart attack! I’d like my reputation to be more. Can people see the pattern you reveal with alcohol, the opposite sex, your work, or even your finances ending well?
I’m certain this is why Peter left all that fish on the beach that day to follow a homeless stranger. He could see in the eyes of Jesus an adventure that would end magnificently!
The story includes pain and suffering but also unimaginable joy!
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”(4)
1. Luke 7:38
2. Matt. 25:31-46. He also mentions how its harder for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 10:25)
3. 1 Timothy 4:12
4. Matthew 25:21