Our reputation matters to us. Let’s be honest … we care what others think. Now, some of you may care LESS about this than others, but all of us (to some degree) spend some time and energy thinking about what others think of us.
One of the difficult components of social media is that it creates a two headed monster: (1) a platform on which we can try to carefully manage an appearance of ourselves for the “world” to see, and (2) a “scorecard” of “likes” or “hearts” or “impressions” or “comments” to let us know if people approve of the version of us we just posted. This feeds some really terrible tendencies that have filled many counselor’s offices with people who are experiencing anxiety because of their concern of what others think about us. It is a vicious cycle.
One of the things that must be acknowledged, though, is that sometimes a person’s reputation does not match reality. Sometimes people are painted as a monster when they are not. Other times people are painted awesome when they are a mess. There are limits to our understanding, and with these limits come imperfect evaluations and (at times) mislabeled reputations.
This is not just true of individuals, it is even true of churches. The reputation of some churches might be awful … while they truly love the Lord and are doing great work. But the converse is also true … there are also churches that are celebrated by their city, their culture, or even other churches, but they are actually in really bad shape.
While we may struggle to align reputations with reality, you know who doesn’t struggle in these evaluations? Jesus Christ.
Jesus sees past the reputations of individuals, pastors, and churches and knows who we REALLY are. In Revelation 3:1-6, Jesus writes a letter to the church in Sardis. In this letter, He says, “You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” Jesus is not wowed by our reputation. He is not distracted by the size of our church building, how many people are in the pews, how talented the worship band is, how interesting the pastor’s messages are, how many followers someone has on social media, or any other thing we might want to zero in on. Jesus sees our hearts. Is our spirit “alive” or “dead”
This Sunday at Wildwood, we will talk more about what it means to be spiritually alive or dead, as we “who have ears will hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” See you for part 7 in the “Lord of the Church” series at Wildwood Community Church in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship services … on online in the stream. See you there, and bring friends!