Reputations. Cities have them. Pamplona, Spain. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Las Vegas, Nevada. Cancun, Mexico. Paris, France. Mecca, Saudi Arabia. They are associated with behavior, activities, or events.
Individuals have them. Consider names like Hitler, Dahmer, Darwin, Einstein, Princess Diana, Madonna, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Stalin, Marx, Gandhi, and Jesus. They are all names ripe with connotation, whether positive or negative.
Corporations and countries earn their reputation, and professions and products do, too. The reputation may exceed the quality of what it represents, and occasionally one’s reputation does not do them justice. But, reputations, once received, are hard to change.
Consider the name “Christian.” It is a word with a definite connotation for just about everyone. For some, it is positive. For others, it is negative. Sometimes, the problem lies with the prejudice of the beholder. Other times, a person claiming to be a Christian behaves in such a way as to sully the reputation of the name.
What reputation do “Christians” have where you work or go to school? Does the very mention of the name cause the rank and file to cringe, roll their eyes, or fly into a raging tirade? What reputation do “Christians” have in your extended family or circle of non-Christian friends? Does it conjure for them synonyms like “hypocrite,” “self-righteous,” “holier-than-thou,” or “ignorant”?
Remember, some of this may be due to the prejudice of these individuals. It could be that they had a negative experience with one person claiming to wear that name. Hopefully, it will never be because we have done anything to lower the beauty and dignity of the name that shows our Savior’s ownership. But, right now and from this day forward, we can raise people’s estimation of Christianity by representing Christ at all times by our speech, attitude, choices, and loving compassion. Mahatma Gandhi once famously said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” May we never give anyone cause to say that about Christians due to our influence! Build Christ’s reputation where you are. Show Him to others.