the baby and the bathwater


Reputation and Reality
July 2, 2009, 1:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The only reputation worth holding on to is a reputation that truly and honestly reflects our reality – the reality of what God is doing amongst us; the reality of our unfolding story as followers of Him; the reality of the hope we have for the future in Jesus Christ.

These days it is all to easy to have a reputation that is based on sand: the sand of a fabricated story; the sand of a faint memory of a distant time in history when we were successful; the sand of a clever marketing strategy. Some companies are very good at it. Some politicians are good at it. Dare I say it – even some churches and Christian leaders are good at it. And to be honest, I wonder how often I personally fall in the trap of being more concerned about a reputation that isn’t borne out of a living, breathing reality. And like anything built on sand, it is doomed to fall and fade away.

As part of the leadership of a large church with a strong UK and international reputation it would be all too easy to focus on maintaining a reputation whilst the reality – even a reality that was arguably the cause of the reputation in the first place – starts to fade.  As a worship leader it would be all too easy to be more concerned about the reputation that comes with profile and records and songs whilst the reality of our worshipping life as a local church becomes powerless and ineffectual. And as a worshipper it would be all to easy to sit on the front row of church with my hands held high whilst my own personal walk of faith grows tired.

Reputation is hugely important. As the wider church we don’t realise this enough. But that reputation is only worthwhile if it accurately reflects our reality. As soon as the two things start to diverge then we become hypocrites.

In Revelation 3 we are warned about the dangers of having a reputation of being alive when inside we are dead. It seems that the reputation itself isn’t the problem – only the fact that the reputation isn’t representative of the reality. And in this passage we find the antidote to all of that: obedience. Remembering what we have been called to and doing it. This is where reputation and reality should find their convergence – in obedience. In fact, the only reputation really worth having is that of a leader, a church, a worshipper who is pursuing the life of radical surrender to God.

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