Reps & Props
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a firm believer in new creation theology. That is to say that the salvation of Jesus doesn’t make us better, it transforms us into a whole new person or species of being that never before existed. (2 Cor. 5:17) I have written much on the subject over the past 30 years. Yet, in my experience, I have been frustrated and have struggled for understanding as to why, in my perceived reality, I have not been able to be just like Jesus. For many years I have cried out for God to reveal to me what has held me back. I believe He has given me the following insight.
Our whole society is fashioned around a standard of what is commonly called reps and props. In a movie I saw, one gang leader says to another, “All I got is my rep. It keeps me alive on the street and you need to give me my props.” To my generation this may sound like a foreign language, but the meaning is very clear upon closer inspection.
If you listen to conversations about upcoming events in church you will hear things like, ‘you have to go see this person or that person because they have been walking with the Lord for 50 years and have raised 12 people from the dead’, etc. Attendance at such events may rise or fall based on the speaker’s reputation. He or she then typically weaves in how God has used them, either to impress people or ‘cause faith to rise in their hearts’. It is a definite strain on my imagination to try and picture Jesus saying anything like, “Just yesterday I raised Lazarus from the dead!” “Oh yeah a couple of weeks ago I walked on water and before that I fed over 5,000 people with a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread!” If Jesus is our example I wonder what He thinks about such behavior.
If this is good or bad is not the issue as much as it is a fact and the way we all live our lives. From the gang leader in the hood to the pastor in the pulpit the same forces are at work. In Philippians 2 a most astounding and powerful statement is made about our Lord Jesus.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation.
What a statement and so easily read over, but just try to live that way! I often wonder why Jesus commanded demons to be silent when they tried to declare who He was or told someone He had healed not to tell anyone who did it. Remember how delighted Jesus was when Peter declared who He was because the revelation came directly from the Father and not from His reputation? When Jesus came into a village He brought the kingdom with Him and as we know the kingdom doesn’t come in word but in demonstration. I like the old quote, “Preach the Gospel—use words when necessary."
Recently my wife related a vision or dream that was shared with her at a meeting. I will try and relate how I think it ties into the next step in God’s plan for our lives. In the account, there were many fiery chariots each having two saints in them. Each pair was holding a double-edged sword. Each saint was transparent and had a heart so big that it went from shoulder to shoulder and every saint’s heart seemed connected to the others’ and all beat in unison. In other words, they were so transparent there was nothing in them that was hidden from view. They were walking in the light and as a result the glory showed clearly through and to each of them. I have heard many complain about the goal that the creators of Facebook have to create a transparent world. Scripturally it isn’t that far off, but we all have something to hide or protect, don’t we?
Jesus is our example and even though He was God He never looked for any props. In fact, as I said earlier, He made himself of no reputation. One of the things I think that the enemy uses against God’s people the most effectively is fear. We are afraid that someone will think ill of us, or misunderstand us or not accept us. The list goes on and on and each of us has something inside that says, “If they only knew this about me they wouldn’t feel the same way about me as they do now.” With every little secret and hidden sin in our lives, we create a link in a chain that holds us captive, increasing our level of opacity.
Have you ever been at a point of breakthrough in your life and taken a leap toward that desired freedom only to be caught in mid-flight by some invisible chain and snatched back to earth a little more battered and bruised? I used to have a dog that we kept on a chain because he tried to attack a trash collector once. It was a long
chain and the dog seemed to have a lot of freedom, but every time the trash collectors would come around he would attempt to get them. And every time the chain would nearly break his neck as it threw him back to the ground holding him within its length. His struggle to reach his goal always ended in humiliation as they laughed at him and called him stupid, until one day he finally gave up and lost the will to break free. It should be us telling the enemy of our souls, “This far and no further”, not the other way around. We are the head and not the tail!
How long is your chain? Do you feel a little like my old dog? Do you feel like you can never quite break through or break free of the invisible chain that has determined your boundaries and limitations? Then it is just possible that you need to deal with a fear in your life that will require you to confess something about yourself to someone other than just God. The Word says that perfect love casts out all fear. There isn’t much we won’t admit and confess to God. He already knows it all anyway, but when it comes to confessing or opening up our lives to each other that’s another story. Yet God desires us to be able to love each other the same way He loves us.
Your “rep” and getting your “props” is what life on the streets is all about. Yet we are only fooling ourselves if we think that the church is exempt from the same pressures. I never learned about the true freedom that clothes those who can make themselves of no reputation. Reputation is like a powerful drug that infects the church at the deepest levels. What a man or woman has done or suffered becomes some type of merit badge that for some reason impresses us and life goes on being all about us. The cry of the psalmist’s heart was and should be our cry, “Not unto us, not unto us O Lord, but unto Thy name give glory!” The opposite of this attitude is so deeply ingrained in our society and the church that we barely recognize it. Yet it is a chain that holds us back from breaking through and becoming the sons and daughters of God that the whole creation groans and travails to be delivered over to. We cry out for power yet I believe that all we have seen are mercy drops. How can God entrust His incredible power to people who have not learned how to make themselves of no reputation and seek the approval of men rather than God?
I can honestly say that I have been a Christian for almost four decades and have still not learned how to, or do not have the courage to, make myself of no reputation. While theologically I have been born again and clothed in the very righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself, on a personal level of reality I must say with Paul, that “I thank God who sent Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” My only hope of glory is Christ! The fact that He lives in me and is faithful to complete the good work He began in me is very comforting.
To make ourselves of no reputation is probably the hardest thing we will ever have to do, but do it we must if we are to come into the realms of glory Jesus has designed as our dwelling place. Only God can give us the power to make ourselves of no reputation, but we must “let this mind be in us”. There is only one faithful and true witness that will never let you down and His name is Jesus. I believe we are standing on the threshold of the greatest awaking this world has ever seen and it will come through a humble unassuming people who have made themselves of no reputation. Do not allow the sons of this age to be wiser than you. A transparent world just might be the goal of our God and not just Facebook. Selah!
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