Before becoming a Christian I did a really good job at making people think I am a good guy. I made sure to do chores at the right time in order to incur the praise of my elders. When I wrestled in high school, I did a good job displaying myself as a hard worker by always putting in 110% in practices; especially when the coaches were watching. I got decent grades. I respected my teachers. I didn’t get into any real trouble. I was awesome at being awesome.
I had a great reputation in the eyes of just about everyone, but then Jesus ruined everything. He exposed me for who I really was. Among all the gossip I had been the victim of in high school, Jesus’ gave the worst. He tore down the reputation I had been building for myself and exposed the real me.
How did He do that? No, He didn’t audibly speak to people about my secret sins. He didn’t come to anyone in a miraculous vision. Those things would be unnecessary because the most damning thing for me had already been revealed. Jesus ruined my reputation from the cross. Milton Vincent explains it perfectly:
The Cross exposes me before the eyes of other people, informing them of the depth of my depravity. If I wanted others to think highly of me, I would conceal the fact that a shameful slaughter of the perfect Son of God was required so that I might be saved. But when I stand at the foot of the Cross and am seen by others under the light of the Cross, I am left uncomfortably exposed before their eyes. Indeed, the most humiliating gossip that could ever be whispered about me is blared from Golgotha’s hill; and my self-righteous reputation is left in ruins in the wake of its revelations. With the worst facts about me thus exposed to the view of others, I find myself feeling that I truly have nothing left to hide.
After repenting of my sin and putting my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior, I was naked before the eyes of the world. There was no more hiding or faking it. In becoming a Christian, Jesus’ Cross forced me to admit that I am not the righteous young man I was posing to be, but I was the scum of the earth. I deserved nothing less than what Christ endured on the cross. By becoming a Christian, I committed PR suicide. Since then, there has been no going back. My reputation has been eternally ruined and for that I am eternally grateful.
Not only am I grateful that my empty self-righteousness has been crushed, but I am thankful for what the exposing work of the Cross has done for my relationships with others. Trying to hide the truth about who you really are is exhausting work. Every moment of every day is spent keeping the mask on and hoping that no one finds out who you really are. In contrast, after being exposed by the Cross, I was freed. No longer did I have to pretend. I was finally able to have truly honest and open relationships. Again, Vincent describes it well:
Thankfully, the more exposed I see that I am by the Cross, the more I find myself opening up to others about ongoing issues of sin in my life. (Why would anyone be shocked to hear of my struggles with past and present sin when the Cross already told them I am a desperately sinful person?) And the more open I am in confessing my sins to fellow-Christians, the more I enjoy the healing of the Lord in response to their grace-filled counsel and prayers (James 5:16). Experiencing richer levels of Christ’s love in companionship with such saints (Ephesians 3:14, 17-19), I give thanks for the gospel’s role in forcing my hand toward self-disclosure and the freedom that follows. (Taken from A Gospel Primer for Christians, p. 34-35).
So there it is. Jesus has ruined my reputation. He has taken away any credibility I may have had in the world’s eyes. But far from being angry, I am grateful. The reputation I was building for myself may have fooled others, but it didn’t fool God for a second. He knew who I was. He saw the face behind the mask and He chose to love me. He dealt with my sinful heart and my self-righteous disguise at the cross. And from the ruins of my shattered reputation He has given me new life.
Indeed, I am a great sinner with a an even greater Savior.