A few years ago, I sat with a “successful” middle-age Christian man, married with three kids, who did not have a good reputation in our business community. After several people came to me about their personal dealings with him, I called him and asked him to meet with me. He attended our church and as his elder, I wanted to find out why these people were saying these things about him.
Of course, he dismissed their characterization of him as unhappy investors with completely unfounded reasons for not trusting him. He ended his defense with “I don’t care what people think of me!” as if his opinion settled it.
“I don’t think you really believe that. And as a follower of Jesus you have no choice but to care.” Everybody cares what others think of them It may be true that this man no longer cares what these investors think of him, but I’ve never yet met a person who didn’t want to be admired, loved or respected by somebody. Humans are simply built that way. We all care what some people think of us!
For Jesus sake But more importantly, everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian or follower of Jesus must care what others think. Why? Because when we take on the identity of “Christian,” we actually take on his name, Christ-ian. Jesus’ reputation becomes irreversibly linked to ours. What people see in us, both good or bad, either makes Jesus look good, or makes him look irrelevant.
“and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life… so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11,12b
This is why presidents of universities or ambassadors resign when they behave badly, publically. They are the public face of those institutions and their reputation and that of the institution, became so linked that to discredit one’s self, is to discredit your school or country. Even secular institutions understand that principle. The Me Too movement has been flushing out leaders almost weekly from Senators to presidents of corporations, for this very reason.
Ambassadors for Christ Paul says every believer is an ambassadors for Christ.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20
The life we live as Christ’s ambassadors tell people what, and to whom, we give our highest allegiance. We live to bring glory to God. So if you’re a Christian you don’t have the right to not care what people think of you. You and I gave up that right the day we began calling ourselves Christians.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
How following Jesus works in real life.
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