What is Your Reputation?

by Rob Tims

What is your reputation? What do people know about you, say about you, presume about you, and so on? When your name comes up, what comes to mind?

It can be an unsettling thing to ponder, or it can be a very humbling and encouraging thing to consider. But consider it we must, because we all have a reputation.

I find it interesting that in many places throughout the New Testament, letter writers (Paul and Jesus in particular) are very concerned about a congregation’s reputation.

  • Rome: First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because the news of your faith is being reported in all the world.
  • Colosse: We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints because of the hope reserved for you in heaven.
  • Thessalonica: You became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. For the word of the Lord rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place that your faith in God has gone out. Therefore, we don’t need to say anything, for they themselves report what kind of reception we had from you.
  • Pergamum: I know where you live—where Satan’s throne is. Yet you are holding on to my name and did not deny your faith in me.

But I particularly love the account in Acts 11:19-26 (CSB) about the reputation of Christians in Antioch. In fact, it’s from them that we get our label as “Christians” or “little Christs.”

Now those who had been scattered as a result of the persecution that started because of Stephen made their way as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. News about them reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to travel as far as Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged all of them to remain true to the Lord with devoted hearts, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And large numbers of people were added to the Lord.

Then he went to Tarsus to search for Saul, and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught large numbers. The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.

The question is this: what were the believers in Antioch doing in order that the world watching them would call them Christians? What were they doing that earned them the reputation as “little Christs”? The text gives us two clues: they gathered together, and did so for the purpose of submitting to teaching.

So, who are “little Christs”? They are people who gather on a regular basis for the purpose of acknowledging their need for truth and wisdom that only God can give them in Christ. They are people defined by who they meet with and the truth they take in. If we are willing and consistent (or even persistent) to go to church for the purpose of being taught, we are telling a watching world that we don’t have answers on our own, but that God in Christ does. And they, in turn, will call us “little Christs.”

So, what is your reputation?

Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.

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