I've been writing here a few thoughts that vaguely relate to the message we'll share tomorrow at Crossroads, a message I titled "reputation.god." There's an online website that I've heard advertized called "reputation.com" that helps people check and improve their internet reputation and identities. But God invites us to find our true identity, and reputation, in Him, specifically in God as he has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ.
The scriptures we're focusing on tomorrow are (1) the story of the prophet Samuel's anointing of the young man David, who was always remembered later as the best king the people of Israel ever had... even though it was strange, in that culture, that the youngest would be selected over the elder and (2) parts of the Sermon on the Mount that encourage people to SHINE (on the one hand) and NOT be trying to enhance one's reputation (on the other). You can read the scriptures [here].
Here's what I wrote beginning an hour ago...
Right now I'm sitting in our kitchen/dining room. It's just after 7:30. The sun is coming up yellow on the eastern horizon. A beautiful morning, though outdoors it's windy and a couple degrees below zero. I'll head out in a few minutes to go get some exercise at our local Snap Fitness.
Yesterday in the early afternoon Toni and I went to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to pick up one of the young women who had lived with us as a foreign exchange student back in 2009-2010. It's been really fun to spend time together again. When she and the other girl were with us then we weren't able to learn as much from one another because of the language and cultural barriers. Now I feel like I've gotten to know this particular young lady so much better. It's great!
One of the things I most enjoyed learning yesterday was about the ways people relate in her culture, and hearing her speak about how "strange" I and other "Americans" are in her eyes. I often think that we here in our country put on a façade as we relate inter-personally; but that's even more true, it seems to me anyway, where she comes from. I have a lot more to learn but it seems to be that the sense of "reputation" and "honor" they have would make it difficult for people to be very honest. (But I may not be understanding correctly.)
Tomorrow at Crossroads we'll speak together about "reputation," and specifically the idea of reputation and how it fits into our relationship with God, and, more importantly, God's relationship with us. It seems to be that God wants to set even Americans free from the ways we are concerned about what others think of us. Now I'm praying about how that affects others in other places around the world, including in the Asian culture our foreign exchange "daughter" represents. How do Korean Christians relate to their families and their cultures? Maybe I'll learn more about that in conversations today.
It's so great how God weaves our experiences together to teach us. The theme of "reputation" and "identity" came up another time this week too. On Wednesday our young people heard a presentation on Christian "identity" at Freedom Church, the idea that we all have many roles or "identities" in life (for example, son/daughter, worker/employer, student/teacher, younger/older) but there is only ONE identity that will last forever... being a son or daughter of God. Being confident in that identity sets us free from undue worry about how others look at us in this life.
So what I wrote here is not all cohesive or complete, but I hope you'll get the sense that I'm just trying to get some things written down before these thoughts fade away in the activities of the day. I am praying, and I invite you to pray with me, that God would direct what we share tomorrow at Crossroads, so, as we speak the Word of God, we would allow God to do what he wants to do in us, that is, setting people free to follow Jesus in all of life.