Reputation – lost and found

Like other Canadians, I have been watching the reputations of four Canadian senators being torn apart publicly for weeks now.

As I watch, I wonder how I would feel if my reputation was being destroyed. I know I would be devastated.

Years ago, I worked with two of the senators involved. I was friendly with one of them – an affable, likeable journalist – although I did not know him well. He was respected by his colleagues.

Now, he and the other three are being accused of taking advantage of murky Senate rules to claim more expense money than they should. They have been largely abandoned by their political parties who are aware of public outrage with apparent misuse of taxpayers’ money.

This is an old story. Solid reputations that took years to develop can collapse in a moment. Sometimes unfounded rumours can be as destructive as actual misdeeds.

So, how would Jesus react to people like this?

The Bible makes it clear. He would reach out to them with the good news that they can find hope in him. Of course, they could only seize this hope by humbling themselves and admitting their misdeeds and their need of him.

Jesus spent a lot of time with people with a bad reputation. In fact, he preferred to spend time with them than with the so-called “good” people. He said it was his goal to reach out to sinners and not the self-righteous.

I think he did this because people of “ill repute” knew they were despised and without hope. The religious authorities condemned them, but Jesus offered them everlasting life if they gave themselves to him.

Sometimes we Christians forget about this side of Jesus’ life. I must say I often join the crowd in denouncing law-breakers.

But, a friend of mine spent years visiting people in prison, offering the hope of everlasting life – and help once they left jail. Jesus would have done that.

In the end, our reputations are worth nothing in God’s eyes. We all have faults – some of us are simply better at disguising them.

What matters is Jesus’ reputation. His reputation is faultless.

He loves us so much that he calls us his friends and brothers and sisters – if we give ourselves to him. Then, God the Father smiles on us because Jesus died for us.

We join God’s family because of Jesus’ reputation – which is good enough for us.

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