What They’ll Say When I’m Arrested

Ever watch those “on the street” news interviews with friends and neighbors when someone has been arrested?

They find the person’s brother or cousin, a neighbor or an aunt and ask them about the accused.

Sometimes the person is standing in a screen door under a porch light “I’ve got nothing to say to you people. Johnny was a good boy. He got straight A’s and never gave his mom any trouble. That’s all I’m going to say.”

Or the camera catches them on the sidewalk outside a house covered with police tape. “They were quiet neighbors. I used to see him mowing the lawn and sometimes he came to his son’s baseball games. He seemed like a regular guy.”

It makes me worry that I’ll be arrested one day and they’ll interview some random person from my life with only peripheral knowledge of me.

I can only imagine the range of responses. I have an aunt who might say “She was always a good girl. All A’s. Very religious. Practically a saint.”

My kid brother would likely say “Yeah, everyone always thought she was so perfect but she wasn’t. There’s tons of stuff you people don’t know. She could be real mean. You should try washing dishes with her sometime.”

Or one of my neighbors, “Her? I don’t know really. Her husband was friendly, always helping out. He fixed my bulkhead but her? I don’t know. Quiet, chunky, kept to herself, always writing, working on some book, she said, but I never heard of her publishing anything really.”

I don’t plan to be arrested anytime soon (although, sometimes it seems more likely than my getting a book published) but it does make me wonder.

I used to love a Larry Norman song that was popular around campfires during my college years called “The Outlaw”. Each verse began with the words “Some say he was . . .” and went on to describe how people described the subject of the song alternately as an outlaw, a poet, a sorcerer, a man of mystery, a radical or a politician.

The final verse of the song reveals Him as the Son of God, Jesus Christ. But the lyrics take an interesting journey through the variety of perceptions about who Jesus was according to those who spoke of Him.

Jesus once asked His disciples who people said that He was. Luke records it this way:

“Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone.” Luke 9: 18-21 NIV

It’s fascinating to me that Jesus didn’t chase after people’s perceptions. He didn’t appoint a subcommittee of apostles to handle his PR or to go around straightening out His reputation.

He was here for a purpose and that purpose wasn’t marketing.

Several years ago I learned a hard lesson about reputation. I do believe it’s best to have a good one based on the truth about who you are but the fact is that we can’t always control what others say or think about us. A reputation can be stolen, hijacked, robbed by whispers, rumors and outright lies.

One of my favorite passages comes from Matthew 6: 19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

It wasn’t until my reputation was stolen that I realized it was an earthly treasure I had been tending like a bank account or a box of jewels. My heart (and my ego) was wrapped up in other people’s perceptions and in managing my own PR.

I believe God allowed it to be stolen to teach me to let it go. I was in danger of worrying more about what people said about me than I was about actually being the person He called me to be.

What about you? Ever had an experience with misperceptions? Ever had your reputation smeared or stolen? Ever found yourself distracted from your mission because you were chasing people’s opinions of you?

If we follow Jesus, we can’t really expect to be treated differently than He was. Especially as we enter the times ahead for the church, it’s a good time to know that your name – your true name – is safely stored with Jesus and will return when He does.

Until then, maybe we should focus our energy on BEING the people we’re called to be and let the rest go.

After all, in the end, the fate of the arrested lies in the hands of the judge – not the man or woman on the street. Right?

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8 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Karen says:

    I thought I posted a comment earlier but I don’t see it. So, thanks Lori! I needed this.

  2. Thanks, Karen. Glad to have you come by today.

  3. Karin says:

    Thanks again – great post. I’m going to have to find the lyrics written down because I can’t seem to make them out from his singing! Maybe it’s because my hearing is going, lol!

  4. Carmen says:

    I enjoyed this post! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what people think of you, yet all that matters is that we please Him. Thanks!

  5. Hi Karin, I changed the video to one that is louder and clearer. Hope that helps.

    I agree Carmen! It’s a lesson I have to relearn all the time!

  6. Cheri says:

    You said: “Several years ago I learned a hard lesson about reputation. I do believe it’s best to have a good one based on the truth about who you are, but the fact is that we can’t always control what others say or think about us. A reputation can be stolen, hijacked, robbed by whispers, rumors and outright lies. . .

    “It wasn’t until my reputation was stolen that I realized it was an earthly treasure I had been tending like a bank account or a box of jewels. My heart (and my ego) was wrapped up in other people’s perceptions and in managing my own PR.

    “I believe God allowed it to be stolen to teach me to let it go. I was in danger of worrying more about what people said about me than I was about actually being the person He called me to be.”

    You cannot possibly know how much your sharing this has ministered to me. I have recently had my reputation stolen, and it is a very painful thing . . . likely because I was in danger of worrying more about others’ opinions than God’s. Ouch. Pride goeth before a fall.

    Thank you for this post.

    Cheri

  7. Cheri, my heart goes out to you. I remember the pain like it was yesterday. And yet I can honestly say that when God was done with the experience, it proved freeing. Praying for that freedom for you!

  8. Cheri says:

    Thank you, Lori! I appreciate your prayers and your encouragement.

    God bless,
    Cheri