Saturday, September 7, 2013

Of No Reputation

We humans, and particularly we Christians, spend (translate: waste) an awful lot of time when we worry about our reputations.  The King James version of Phillippians reminds us, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men . . .”   –Philippians 2.5-7 (KJV).

Jesus has absolutely no concern about his own reputation.  If he had, he would have avoided many of those with whom he consorted.  And not just the obvious ones like the women everyone loves to paint as whores.  The fishermen added nothing to Jesus’ gloss.  They brought nothing to the table in terms of Jesus’ cred (well, except for his street cred, of course – in some places, fishermen are cool).

If our ‘credibility’ as a nation is in the top 5 reasons to bomb Syria (and it is: recall the ‘red line’ language – the President is challenged to bomb because he said he would; and he has responded that he will because he said he would), we’re in big moral trouble.

As I’ve quoted before from an old-timer in AA, what other people think about me is none of my business.

To kill other people, to destroy their homes, their possessions, their land, for the sake of what other people will think about me (whether I be an individual or a nation) is nonsense of the basest kind.

It is factually flawed, for it presumes that the destruction will shape the opinions of others towards me in the direction I intend (which almost never happens).

It’s the childhood myth that I am center stage and that I control the thoughts/choices/actions of others in the drama of events that I (mistakenly) believe I can control.  It grants no freedom of choice/action/thought to the other, whoever that may be – the intended ‘target’ of my action.

It’s the unwillingness to even consider changing my mind or admitting I made a foolish commitment in the first place.  Or to borrow from Ralph Waldo Emerson, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

It is to presuppose that I can measure such things as reputation, which I cannot.

It is to presuppose being of my word to be more important than the lives of others. [Read the story of Jepthah and the sacrifice of his daughter for the sake of his (unsought) promise to God in Judges 11 for a heart-breaking lesson in kept promises].

For those among us who claim to follow The Way, we forget Jesus’ example of discounting his reputation for the sake of others at the peril of being not followers of His Way, but of our own.

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