The reality of reputation
Why you shouldn't care what the world thinks of you.
Likes on Instagram. Friends on Facebook. Photos you’re tagged in. We currently live in a society where our appearance - online and in reality - is scrutinised by all and our reputation defines our worth.
Every day we make decisions and choices that ensure our reputation remains intact. We tell stories that make us seem more likeable, we express our opinions so people agree with us, we choose photos that will get the highest number of likes. We have become obsessed with ourselves and with our image, slaves to our own reputation and slaves to the unrealistic expectations we set for ourselves.
It is only when we take a step back and see how shallow and worthless these things are that we can begin to realise the extent to which we have lost perspective. Only recently I have realised my own enslavement to others’ opinions of me and how materialistic, temporary and unsatisfying these opinions are. When we live our lives for our own reputations, we lose perspective of the reputation of our God.
What does the Bible say?
Psalm 103 says, “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” When we become obsessed with our reputations, something I am certainly guilty of, we idolise ourselves and believe we are the pinnacle of human creation. We forget that we are one in seven billion people on Earth. We forget the history that has gone before us. We forget the future that is to come after us. And most importantly, we forget the God who orchestrates life.
How can we look at the intricacies of atoms, the 10000 species of butterflies, the expanses of space and instead of looking to God, look to ourselves? The reputation of our God as the creator, redeemer and saviour of humanity far transcends any worthless reputation we could gain in our short time on Earth.
The core of the Christian hope is God forgiving us, his children, even though we deserve (and choose) death. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), not because of anything we did, but because of his love and his mercy. He always has his arms wide open, embracing his children when we ask for forgiveness and lavishing us with his love. His forgiveness gives us an eternal reputation of Jesus’s righteousness and God’s goodness.
With this hope, why do we settle for an Earthly reputation? Why do we try to outdo God’s status? It is completely ridiculous.
Who we are in Christ
Jesus said “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) and in Colossians Paul says that “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). When we ask God to forgive us, we ask him to be the sovereign ruler of our lives. We choose to put God first and to give Jesus all the glory. He is our way, our truth and our life.
Being a Christian is never going to be considered “cool” by the world. I have only realised recently that we are God’s children and he calls us to live for him, not for the world. We have an eternity to keep our eyes fixed on a God with a reputation immensely greater than ours can ever be. Rather than being worthless because of our worldly reputation, we become worthwhile because of what Christ has done for us and the God we have on our side.
So why do we worry about how many Instagram followers we have when our true value comes from the God who loves us?