Sunday, July 06, 2008

I don't 'really care' about my bad reputation...

I'm taking somewhat of a risk posting the song below. I think most of you "get" me and you understand why I would share something like this, but I know that for some I'm crossing an unnecessary line. And that's all right - I'll take my chances! (I'll say right off the bat, if you're one who doesn't care for certain 'bad' words (one of the tamer 'bad' words is repeated throughout the song - the "D" word), or certain 'bad' attitudes represented in film/video, then you're one of the people I'm taking my chances with and you might not care to read further or watch the video!

As I first give a little background, I'll start off by saying that I've met so many people - in person and online - who have dealt with, in one way or another, the nasty effects of legalism and who are wanting to break free in their hearts from those who have oppressed them and who have been the cause of spiritual abuse in their lives. For me personally, ever since I began to become free in the wonderful grace of God, one thing that has tended to hamper my own growth in freedom is the fear of losing my "reputation" among my super-religious peers.

You know who I'm talking about. Those who follow all the rules. Those who are in church every time the doors are open. Those who dress right. Those who listen to the right music. Those who follow through on their duty to tithe to their local church. Those who don't drink, smoke or chew, or go with girls who do. Those who have all their spiritual i's dotted and t's crossed. Those who do all they can do to protect their godly reputations and who frown on anything that appears even a tiny bit out of line.

Now here's the thing. I love Jesus. I love Him more and more as a result of growing in His love for me. I'm FREE in Him, and my freedom allows me to just be myself and watch Him work His works in me as we have a relationship together, instead of following some divine "do" and "do not do" list. But can you believe this - some people actually frown on all of this, and consider it a flagrant disregard for the things of Christ! Hmmm!

And so at times I've (unnecessarily) carried with me a bit of concern about what they think of me. Sometimes I've (unnecessarily) worried about my reputation among my more-religious brothers and sisters. And it's been too much of an unnecessary burden for me. Now if you know me, you know I'm not bitter or angry about any of this. I've just seen how it's hurt me in the past and I've seen how it's hurt others. But I've become increasingly free of it all and I've also seen many other people breaking free! And so when I see or hear something that seems to represent an example of all of this, I tend to like to share it!

"Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts is a song from the 80's that I heard recently (a few weeks ago) after having not heard it for many years. Then this morning on the radio I heard a rerun of one of Casey Kasem's old Top 40 countdowns in which he played Joan Jett's "I Love Rock N' Roll." Casey mentioned that before hitting it big with that song, Joan and her band had been turned down by twenty three record labels while trying get a record deal.

I then remembered that the "Bad Reputation" video had kind of an "In your face / So there!" theme to it, with somewhat comical scenes showing the various record label executives rejecting the band and their music. But then it goes on to show the Billboard chart with "I Love Rock N' Roll" in the Number 1 position, and gee golly, the record execs suddenly liking the band!

The video and the lyrics (some of the lyrics, not all of them) got me to thinking about the whole "reputation" thing in the church. How often are people looked down upon and rejected when their act doesn't seem good enough for everyone else. It's only when (if) they start to put on a good performance that they get showered with all kinds of attention and accolades. And then they have to keep working hard to maintain their good reputation. If they should slip, even to a degree... Ooooh I shudder to think about it.

Of course the reputation thing is nothing new. The Apostle Paul certainly dealt with it. He came up against those who would "desire to make a good showing in the flesh" (keep up the 'good reputation' of the church) by making Christians keep the Law, just so that they wouldn't be persecuted by the Jews (see Galatians 6:11-15). Paul also had to deal with a similar problem with Peter. When the law-keeping Jewish Christians would come by, Peter would withdraw and separate himself from the Gentile believers (with whom he would normally have no problem having fellowship with), fearing his own reputation among the religious people. Paul "withstood him to his face" about this hypocrisy.

And so, on to my main purpose in bringing all this up: We who are free in Christ, and who have gotten off of the performance treadmill and who have embraced Jesus the Person and chucked aside Christianity the Religion, have no real reason to be concerned about our reputation among our legalistic brothers and sisters in Christ! We are free and we can't let fear of religious people stop us from enjoying our freedom!

The attitude represented in the song "Bad Reputation" doesn't necessarily represent my own personal attitude, and perhaps my way of expressing the thoughts would be a little more toned down than the lyrics of the song. But yet as I've continued to toss around the idea of sharing this video, I just can't deny that once again I've come across a song that was never, ever intended as anything close a 'spiritual freedom' song but yet has spoken volumes to me in that regard!

Second warning on the "D" word... here are some of the lyrics, followed by the video:

I don't give a damn about my reputation
Never said I wanted to improve my station
And I'm only doin' good
When I'm havin' fun
And I don't have to please no one
And I don't give a damn
About my bad reputation

Oh no, not me
Oh no, not me

I don't give a damn
About my reputation
I've never been afraid of any deviation
And I don't really care
If ya think I'm strange
I ain't gonna change
And I'm never gonna care
About my bad reputation

Oh no, not me
Oh no, not me


  1. Yeah, one of the hardest, Ok, THE HARDEST, thing about our newfound freedom. Why do we humans care SO MUCH what others think of us. It's SO not Jesus! I have a feeling the more enveloped we are in Father's love, the less we care. I've got a long way to go, baby!!

    To hell with "saving face"; it just sucks the life out of us!

  2. Joel--I'm glad I'm not the only one who cares too much about other people's approval.

    A few weeks ago, I found this quote from Ben Franklin: "It is the eye of other people that ruin us. If I were blind I would want neither fine clothes, fine houses or fine furniture."

  3. Great word, Joel! It is so freeing when we stop caring what other people think of us. Lately I've been mulling over Paul's words when he said he did not even judge himself. I can hardly care about what other's think if I get to the point where I will not even judge myself, you know? Yeah, you know!

  4. I've actually thought about what Richard mentioned before in watching someone blind I saw on television. He said he was more free than the people with eyesight as appearances meant no difference to him. He was able with his blindness to see the real person.

    I envied him in a way because of that. How freeing would it be to be completely careless about how people look or what they think I look like?

    Anyway, great post, Joel. I like them 80's rock songs.

  5. Free Spirit,

    I agree... this has seemingly been one of the biggest obstacles for me to overcome. But you are so right... the more we know God and His love, and our acceptance in HIM, the less we care about what others think of us, and really I think the freer we are to love them.


    Yep, I can relate to the assurance that I'm not the only one going through this. I really like your quote.


    Yeah... that's so true! Sometimes we're so full of introspection and self-condemnation, and I really think we need to get over that before, or at least along with, getting over our concern about what others think of us!


    Wow... yeah it's funny to think thatthat would be such a freedom (being blind), and yet it's easy to understand why it would be a freedom. To no longer be bound by the selfish judgmentalism of outward appearances.

    And yeah, 80's Rock rules! :)

  6. Okay, Joel. Another one of your strange songs with a message but I did listen to the whole thing.

    In my own life, I've found that fear of what others may think is probably the biggest hindrance to moving forward. I remember one of your earlier posts where you stated that in the Bible, persecution came from the religious people and not from the world. That was an eye opener but it's so true.

    I agree with you and the others. As we become more secure in Father's love, the opinions of others - whether good or bad - won't matter any more.

    Anyway, Little Brother, I don't think I'll be singing this one. I'll stick with Twisted Sister. LOL

  7. Joel, I hope I didn't come across as judgmental in my previous post. You know I like to pick on you about your unusual taste in music.

    I really admire your willingness to be open about who you are even if some feathers are ruffled. Obviously, our taste in music is different but I still enjoy listening to whatever you post.

    BTW, has our make-up come in yet?

  8. Aida,

    I admit I was really only trying to corrupt you some more by getting this song going over and over in your mind. ;) Ha ha!

    Really, I know it's not everybody's "flavor," and while I went back and forth in my mind about whether it was too much for my blog, in the end I knew that the "message" in the song spoke to me and represents part of what I want to share with others, so I really didn't hesitate all that much in posting it. And no, I don't think you sounded the least bit judgmental. I totally knew what you were saying.

    As for your comment... earlier today I was thinking about the exact same thing that you brought up... about Paul and the early Christians being persecuted not by the "sinners" of the day, but rather by the religious people.

    When Paul said he wasn't worried about his reputation ("I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ"), he wasn't saying that he's not ashamed of standing up for morality or good, clean Christian living. Rather he was saying that he wasn't ashamed of standing up for a righteousness that wasn't even his, but rather was a righteousness for which he could receive absolutely no credit, because it was God's very own righteousness, given to him as a gift!

    That went soooo against the flow of his previous life in Judaism and against how his peers viewed a holy, godly life, and he endured a lot of persecution (in ways that we've never really seen) for standing up for a righteousness by faith.

    The Twisted Sister make-up has not yet arrived. In the meantime, I'm experimenting with a darker "Joan Jett" look, just to see if it's 'me' or not.

  9. Joel, as gifted as you are in corruption, I don't think it'll work this time.

    Well, I guess we'll all just have to be patient until the make-up arrives. Of course, you'll be posting pictures of yourself in the Joan Jett make-up so that will help the rest of us decide if we'd like to try that look too.

  10. Hmm... thanks. I haven't heard this song since it came out. *smiling* Tonight, a friend and I were in the grocery store and ran into a couple that still go to the church we left (rather unceremoniously and with condemnation) and they seemed embarrassed to see us. Sad, but... thanks for this song, it helps. ;-)

  11. Katherine,

    Yes, that is sad. It's just so sad that brothers and sisters in Christ look down upon their Christian siblings like that. But we know we're not alone in this and I'm glad this song played a part in helping you through, as it has for me. :)

  12. I was thinking of posting Metallica's song "Master of Puppets" on my blog. The lyrics really connects with the whole idea of promised closeness to God if you just try a little harder in your Christian life. But it never seems to come.

  13. Matthew,

    Every time I hear that song nowadays, I think of the same thing you're thinking of.

  14. I think one of the challenges is not ones concern that you'll get a bad reputation, but that you'll lose the potential platform to minister. I think one of the main reasons there is still so much false doctrine in the intsitutional church is because to stand up against it means to lose any chance of ministering on that platform.

    I could be totally wrong, but that's the impression i get when I think about the whole issue

  15. It is more important what God says and thinks about us than what man says or thinks about us. We are in His currency not the world's. Alvin

  16. Mick,

    I think you're right. There's probably a lot of that in the church... the fear of losing the platform that a person has gained in one way or another to minister. What those people need to understand is that Christ Himself is their platform. :) As the wind blows, and you do not know where it is coming from or where it is going, so it is with those who are born of the Spirit.


    Amen to that! HE is the one who we're in union with and in whose hands we are secure.

  17. As I first give a little background, I'll start off by saying that I've met so many people - in person and online - who have dealt with, in one way or another, the nasty effects of legalism and who are wanting to break free in their hearts from those who have oppressed them and who have been the cause of spiritual abuse in their lives.

  18. Great article Joel, always need to be reminded of this, the old me every now and then starts caring to much about my reputation, but I have a little thing I do when I feel that creeping in, I look to Jesus and "see" He doesn't give a rip, He's all for me, so what the heck! Ha freedom!!!! Awesome note, thanks...

  19. Amen to that, Marie-Louise! I still find myself caring too much about "my reputation" from time to time and as has been discussed in this thread already, that type of thing can keep a person from freely ministering in the ways that their heart is truly leading them to minister, all for fear of what someone else will think. So I need reminders like this all the time. :D