How Are We Perceived?

Terry and I were doing business with someone we both really like, a lot. We trust this person, we believe this person, we found this person to be extremely hard working and is an honorable, intelligent kind of person. We had such a peace about working with and being around him. Later on, this guy had to bring another person into the mix, and when we first met (I’ll refer to the second person as P#2) P#2, we had somewhat of a bad feeling. The timing, however, was in the middle of a ton of stress. That same day after we first met P#2, we looked at each other and said how surprised we were the person we liked and trusted was associated with these other people. We dismissed it, somewhat, thinking it was due to our own level of stress, and P#2 might not be that bad.

Fast forward a little more than a year and due to logistics and circumstances, we realized we had to deal with P#2, again. We tried, so hard, to like P#2, even giving the benefit of the doubt after some off-putting comments and suggestions were made. After the third or fourth one, though, we both said how much we did not want to do business with P#2. We both had this constant nagging in our guts, no matter how hard we *tried* to like P#2, and excuse the behavior, at one point Terry asked me, “Why should we be excusing it? This is ridiculous. We would never allow ourselves to do business with P#2 in any other circumstance.”

I shared with my sister-friend about it one day when we were talking and she said, “My thought would be, if y’all feel this way, what will people who P#2 encounters on your behalf think?”

Terry and I both realized the severity of that situation, and as much as we genuinely liked and trusted the first person, we couldn’t bring ourselves to feel that way about P#2. And because P#2 would be representing us in business transactions, we spent a couple of weeks praying about it and realized we just could not allow someone who does not align with our belief system or work ethic to represent us. That whole, “you’re known by the company you keep” mindset really opened our eyes to the fact we do not want other people to believe we act, talk, live the way P#2 does.

Once we parted ways, Terry told me what an enormous load off his chest he felt, and I certainly agreed and felt the same relief. But something brought P#2 to mind the other night and it hit me.

Each of us are P#2 when it comes to how we represent Jesus.

Jesus made a wonderful impression on us because of who and what He is. But as followers and lovers of Jesus, we are all, collectively “P#2.” If we are the first example of Jesus some people receive, are we representing Him in the right way? Because in everything we do, we are to reflect and represent Jesus.

When Christians get on television and talk more about the things they hate than the things they love; we are being bad representatives of Jesus.

When Christians show up with signs of protest and yell on street corners about why people are going to hell instead of how they can go to Heaven, we are being bad representatives of Jesus.

When Christians tell someone the many reasons why they have been “bad” or perhaps their reason for suffering is punishment from God, we are being bad representatives of Jesus.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." - John 13:34-35 (NIV)

We have to be so careful and mindful about the people with whom we not only associate, but do business. If someone is so full of themselves and you cannot trust their word, yet you hire them to represent you, how will people perceive you?

And in the way people perceive you and me, is most important how they perceive Jesus.