We serve Christians around the world whose brave faith in Jesus means they are, beaten, threatened, imprisoned, tortured, falsely accused, disowned and hated.

Reputation

pattern

Check out this five minute reflection on reputation, based on Soy’s story of brave faith. If you’re a leader, you can download a free simple session outline based on some of the material here (and other stuff too) to help you go through the theme of reputation and credibility with your groups…

Soy and her family left their former tribal religion to follow Jesus. This upset their neighbours, who worried the local spirits they worshiped would be angered because Soy and her family refused to take part in traditional religious rituals. As a result, Soy and her family faced abuse and were called all sorts of bad things. The family’s reputation went downhill, and the rest of the village didn’t want them around anymore.

Think:

  • What stands out to you from Soy’s story? What do you remember?
  • If the police were waiting outside the meeting you are in now, would you keep worshipping?
  • Soy and the rest of the small church were given a choice: sign a document to renounce their faith and go home, or keep believing in Jesus and go to prison. What would you choose?
  • How does it make you feel that the police didn’t defend Soy and the other Christians but put them in prison?

This all happened to Soy when she was 14. Amazingly, instead of giving up her faith, she was imprisoned (illegally) for a week – and even then, she and her auntie spoke to other prisoners about Jesus. She realised that how Jesus viewed her – how much he loved her – was worth more than what others would think – even if that meant being excluded, mocked and put into prison.

We’ve made what other people think of us really matter. Like never before, we live in a culture where we’re willingly being judged and evaluated. Through social media we present edited clips of our lives to the world and wait for likes, shares, and comments. We place a high value on what others think of us, and it is easy to find our identity and meaning in those things.

But that also comes with its own pressures – have a think…

  • Have you ever compared your own life to someone else’s social media profile?
  • Have you ever felt bad, jealous, or not good enough after spending time online?
  • How long do you spend editing clips or images of yourself before posting them?
  • Have you ever used apps that are designed to make you look better/thinner/cooler?
  • Even influencers struggle with the pressure to keep their content and feed looking perfect. Check out these quotes from people who run accounts with big followings:

Why does what other people think matter to you?

The answer will be different for everyone, but maybe there is a core simple answer: that we were made to be loved. And, as followers of Jesus, we know there is only one place where we will find unconditional love, and it is not in likes, or what other people think of us. When we know how God views us, then the pressure to be liked and loved by others becomes less important.

Think about this quote from Soy:

“It does not matter what people say to judge me because they do not read the Bible… they do not believe that He is real. Because of this, I ignore what they say and how they act towards me. I know Jesus is almighty.”

Bible:

Read: 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

Paul had a big reputation. He had an incredible encounter with God, was a powerful preacher, a theological heavyweight, had planted loads of churches and seen many come to faith in Jesus. But his ministry got him into trouble with Jewish and Roman leaders. He was imprisoned, chained, shipwrecked and eventually killed by those opposed to his faith.

  • What does it mean for God’s power to be made perfect in weakness? In our weakness, God gives us strength to go through the hard times. If we do things in our own strength, there is more room for you and less room for God.
  • How you found God’s strength in your weakness? Can you explain?

Like Soy, Paul was captivated by Jesus’ unconditional love. He knew it deeply, so much so, that his life was geared around sharing it. And like Soy, when he faced hardships, persecution, insults – things that would make him seem weak – he relied not on his strength, but on God’s.

Think:

Social media isn’t bad. Neither is wanting to be liked by others. But do you value what others think more than knowing that you are already loved unconditionally by God?

PRAY NOW...
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Father God, thank You for Soy’s brave faith. Thank You that she inspires us to see what you think of us as more important than likes, shares or our reputation. Help us find freedom and strength in Your love for us. Be with Soy and many others like her whose choice to follow Jesus means people want to exclude or even hurt them. Help them find Your strength in times of weakness. Amen.

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