Day 3: "The world we live in cares so much about reputation."

"Isn't he the handyman, Mary's son?"

—Mark 6:3

In chapter three of Jesus Journey ("Defending Mary"), Jesus defends Mary over the issue of reputation because of questions about his parentage. For me, defending reputation is not about parentage but about what school I went to and what degrees I have. Since working at a serious research university I can’t believe how much these things matter.

I grew up in a missionary organization with a bunch of hippies. There, reputation seemed to be much more about how many countries I went to and how many weird things I’ve eaten in my life. Here, in this world of degrees and fancy schools and who you know, I am so far behind it’s silly. I have my degree in basket weaving and graduated with just a bachelor's. I’m literally the brunt of the “did you get your degree in underwater basket weaving?” joke.

The research lab I work in is run by my husband who doesn’t have a PhD (gasp.) We’ve been told more times than I remember that we can’t make it here and that we shouldn’t be here because we aren’t qualified. We don’t have the necessary reputation. Nevertheless, we have work to do.

The world we live in cares so much about reputation. Whether it’s your parentage, or your past, or your status that our culture puts the most emphasis on, reputation is how we are evaluated.

Jesus wrestled with this same pressure. It bears down on all of us.  And like Trent wrote in this chapter, Jesus probably wanted to throw some punches at times.

I love reflecting on how Jesus responded to this reputation accusation.  "You are from your father," he tells his accusers in John 8:41, "the devil!"  His response is a play on words where the accusation gets thrown right back at the accuser. Jesus walked out with so much confidence that he defended his mother and then put the jerks in their place. (Is that even Christian? Wait… yeah, I guess so.) This is a pretty tough version of the meek and mild, perfect and stoic Jesus.

As I think about the work God has called me to, this kind of toughness is what I need. I’m glad I have Jesus in my corner to model how to live with that kind of confidence, that kind of strength to stand up for people around me and the power to confront people who try to make the world in their own image instead of God’s.

It’s exciting to see Jesus live through this same emotional landmine. He holds his ground but keeps his temper.

That’s what I need.

Today's guest post is by Sarah Gagnon: Living in Madison, WI for 20 years, Sarah works at the University of Wisconsin in a research lab with a mission to impact kids and adults with a sense of wonder—our team makes apps and games to bridge research at the university to the public ( I stay connected with friends from my time in YWAM by teaching in YWAM settings several times a year. As an artist and designer I love to work with an amazing creative team, but I’m even more lucky to be mama to Nora and Bear. Gardening, sewing, reading, yoga, drawing, and exploring the world with my kids are my favorite things. And the perfect cup of tea. (

Photo credit ("boy rejoicing"): Stephanie Pekrul / Photo credit ("stairwell): Chelsea Hudson