One of the hardest things for people to sacrifice is their reputations. People will sacrifice time and money. They may even sacrifice positions of power and influence. But ask someone to sacrifice their reputation, and there is usually either a long, awkward pause or an outright “No.”
This can be especially true when Christians decide to actually go to where hurting, lost and confused people are rather than wait for them to come to Church. Preachers who frequent bars to meet and talk with people who would not ordinarily come to church (unless it is Christmas, Easter, a wedding, a funeral, or Mother’s Day) tend not to last long at that particular pastorate. Lay people who think about sharing a ministry of presence in bars tend to immediately dismiss those ideas rather quickly because, “What would people think if they saw me coming out of there?”
This is exactly the kind of action that got Jesus in trouble with the Pharisees. He was always in the wrong place with the wrong people. Moral, religious folk were not supposed to be around people like that in places like that, let alone intentionally seek them out.
Unfortunately, our attitudes usually reflect the Pharisees rather than Jesus when it comes to something like this. Thank God Jesus didn’t feel this way when he came for each one of us in our lives!
When Christian ministry begins to follow Jesus once again in how and where and with whom he had his ministry, then we will begin to see a renewal in the Church. As long as we are unwilling to sacrifice our reputations for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of the lost, we will have to be content with mediocrity in our ministry.
Jesus asks us to give God our all. That includes our reputations.