I’ve been pondering some of the many faces ‘fear of man’ has. One of those, I think, is manifest when we are overly concerned with our own reputation, especially when it comes to being associated with certain people. Some social identity theorists think part of this concern is due to something they call BIRGing – Basking in Reflected Glory.
Reading the gospels, it’s not something that concerned Jesus – it seemed He loved relentlessly across differences.
Interestingly, it was the religious people of the day that were most concerned about and for Him. They judged Him based on the company He kept.
I believe it’s very possible to build an idol of our public persona (reputation) by selectively associating with certain people, ministries and movements at the cost of genuinely loving people God has called us to. Perhaps like St Peter we will deny certain people we love in order to save our own necks.
In short, if you fear the opinion of man, you’ll serve it. And the Kingdom of God doesn’t advance on the currency of fear. May we be a people whom rejoice first and foremost that our names are written in heaven (Lk10:20). And may the Fear of God rule our hearts abundantly more than that of man.