One of no reputation

On my morning commute today, I had Rich Mullin’s posthumous album, The Jesus Record, for company. I found the songs on this album, which are all about Jesus, both powerfully poignant and hopeful. The song, Man of No Reputation, resounded loudly with what I’ve been mulling over the past few weeks.

In essence the song speaks of Jesus who was a prophet with no reputation but yet touched and healed so many. Narratives in the New Testament tell us that during his ministry, he was almost always infamous more than famous and shunned more than welcomed or loved.

The idea that the Son of God had little or no reputation in community runs counter to this day and age where gifted Christian preachers and ministers are accorded celebrity-type esteem. This kind of psycho-fancy and hero-worship can be dangerous for both the object and subject of lionization.

Given enough time and veneration, the one who is lionized may be tempted to believe that he or she is indeed great and invincible (and only vaguely remembers that it is really the giver of the gift alone who is great and invincible). And when he or she starts living as if this grandiose view of self is true, we know where this road ultimately leads to…destruction and downfall of the soul.

Unfortunately, in my many encounters with reputable ministers, I have observed a sizable gap between their gift in ministry and their character. I have known of ministers who live a questionable private life but portray a righteous public persona, thanks to their gift of persuasion. This breaks my heart and hurts my soul and I ask, “How is this possible? And how long, O Lord, before You bring them back on track?”

Here I recall St Francis of Assisi’s famous statement that our lives are truly the first testimony to the Good News Of Christ (“Preach the Gospel, when necessary, use words.“)

For the subject, in our extreme reverence or admiration for a gifted “speaker” we may be tempted to place him or her on a pedestal that only God alone is worthy of. Here we run the risk of, well, idol-worshipping. I need not elaborate further on what this does to our soul…

Over and over again history informs us that these “idols” are merely human and they could and do fall. So many have been hurt and disillusioned in the past when the life of these hero-ministers was found to have fallen short of their talk. And I’m not just alluding to that which are explicitly immoral like extra-marital relationships or financial embezzlement. I’m also referring to that which are more subtle like pride, self-sufficiency, conceit and narcissism.

It is my prayer, therefore, that I be a woman of no reputation; that all who have heard me speak from the pulpit, would recall my message but forget who the messenger was. After all, the true author and source of all compelling truths is always the Holy Spirit. To God be the glory!

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~ by iccthomas on June 23, 2011.

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