I suck at being a gossip sometimes and, my hunch is, so do you.
We live in a social-media-induced coma where we think that we can say whatever the crap we want and expect things to be fireworks and butterflies, but the reality is, that is not true. Have you ever watched “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets”? Yeah, no one is immune from this world of gossip. Not even the Hollywood elite.
So, what about the Church? We are totally a light in this gossip darkness, right? Someone?!
Wrong. In fact, I would say we are just as bad, if not worse. Why? Because we know better.
Recently, I found out that a leader at one of my old churches, a man who I thought was my friend, had said that my life was a train wreck waiting to happen…What?! I am not sure if this is true, but if it is the implications are huge! This kind of stuff is coming from the very leaders who are supposed to set the example for the rest of us. But listen, we are ALL guilty of this.
Walk into any church, prayer meeting, small group, or coffee chat and I can guarantee someone is talking smack about their pastor, their pastor’s wife, the director of this, that volunteer, this girl or that guy…and their pets. I guarantee that the last time you raised your hands in worship during your church’s rendition of Forever by Bethel you were probably thinking about how much so and so is pissing you off. It is an epidemic.
I suck at this. I find myself getting angry at other people, or hurt, and I go to a single confidant…or five. It is a miserable and spiraling mess.
And what happens when the other person finds out that you have been running your yaps? Do they feel compelled to thank you for calling them on their crap via everyone but them? No. It crushes them. They might not admit it, but it crushes them. I had people from an old church of mine talk about me all the time. And I wanted to run away from church for good! It crushed me.
Now, here is where I will give credit when credit is due…I was living like a moron and I needed a wake up call. Big time! But there is a difference between talking TO someone and talking ABOUT someone. Being a coward is not any better than the guy or gal you are talking about. Read Matthew 18 if you do not believe me.
Christians today will use Facebook, text messaging, and even blogs like this as their evidence against someone. Mark Driscoll, the former Lead Pastor at Mars Hill Church, was destroyed all over the internet. Whenever I heard someone talk about it, their evidence was always “Well I read this or that on Facebook,” “His church did this…he did that….according to this Christian version of Esquire Magazine.” No one I know was at that church or spoke directly to anyone involved. No. One.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
What in the world are we doing here?
Imagine that I brought you into court and began charging you with a crime and you found out that I got all of my evidence from Betsy in the church lobby on Sunday. You would lose your mind. But this is exactly the criteria it takes to outcast any Christian today. If you heard it during a prayer request, it must be true.
Here is a word of advice, my friends. If you are not willing to go to that person directly, then SHUT UP.
No one is going to feel the need to repent because you were so loving and so kind that you had to tell everyone about their screw ups. No one is going to say “Well, I mean, everything you are spreading about me is true, so yeah, thanks!” I know this personally from both sides. And, look, I am not using that cliche line “who am I to judge” or “It’s God’s job to judge, not mine.”
That is not what I am saying, people. We are 100% meant to keep each other accountable and on track.
Not by talking to everyone, but to the person involved. Talk to them. It sucks and it is awkward, but Jesus commands us to do it this way. Matthew 18, my friends; it might save your relationships.
We need to realize that condemning each other over hearsay is going to continue to create cliques and issues within the church and one of the biggest comments I hear about any church is always about the cliques. And it is no wonder. Everyone is talking about each other. Everyone is mad at each other for things that happened days, months, years ago. We go into our worship services and thank God for forgiveness all while withholding it from all the people who have pissed us off.
I cannot help but be reminded of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.
This man owed his king a lot of money, ten thousand talents to be exact. The king was about to sell the servant with his wife, kid, and all that they owned. The servant begged for pity and the king did not just give him extra time, but he completely forgave him of his debt.
Now this story can give you all of the warm fuzzies, but it does not end there. The now forgiven and debt-free servant goes out and sees another servant who owes him 100 danarii and he begins to choke this guy. The guy being choked says “have patience with me, and I will pay you” but the servant refuses and throws him into jail until he can repay the debt.
Do you see what is wrong with us today? We are Christians, saved by the grace of God..the Holy and perfect God who has every right to destroy us where we stand or to banish us to an eternal torment. But He chose to die for us so that we can live with Him for eternity. The undeserving and wretched sinners that we are. And yet a few months later, a few Bible chapters read, and some time volunteering under our belt, and we forget what it was like to ask God to have mercy on us. Sinners.
We are debt-free servants choking the life out of our fellow servants, one foot-in-mouth at a time.
Imagine what it would be like if everyone acted as if we are all worthless sinners who are saved by the grace of God alone.
It is almost like that is exactly what we are.
It is time we mustered up the courage to face people directly and call them to repentance. Stop hiding. Face them directly. Grab coffee. Grab food. Whatever you need to do. Just do it.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:12-13)