Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recipe for Destruction

The topic of gossip in the church has been coming up a lot lately, so I felt compelled to write something as this subject is important to me personally. It primarily relates to gossiping against church leadership, but applies to the issue in general.

This story isn't really mine, so I want to limit myself in how much I share. It did, however, affect me greatly as it involved the people I love dearly.

When I was in high school, the aftermath of a wave of church gossip crumbled much of my world. Completely oblivious to all that went on, I never expected the people I loved and trusted like a family to do so much damage. Beneath a polite surface, there was complaining, griping, discord, and the spreading of numerous lies. It started small, but eventually grew to a tidal wave of disruption that crushed us all.

I've vowed to never allow myself to be a part of something so destructive, as I've seen how it's hurt a whole body of people, as well as the individual who it was focused on. You can't really know that level of pain until you've experienced it for yourself, and you never want to be a part of causing it.

Because of what I've seen and been through, I have a few strong "suggestions" (which are more like instructions) for those who actively attend church.

First, don't allow change or something you don't like to cause you to speak against a church leader to another congregant. If you have a problem, you don't need to infect others with your dissension. It has the potential to spread like a fire, and is just as destructive. Keep your opinions to yourself, pray about it, and if you need to talk about it, talk to the church leader. Don't lead others astray.

This policy also applies to anyone in the church you have a problem with. Matthew 18:15-20 lays out how to handle conflict in the church. If you have a genuine problem, follow this model. If not, you should either let it go, or speak with the individual, not to others who are not involved.

Second, if someone else comes to you with gossip, stop them before they start. Don't allow others to infect you and do not join in. Also, it is your duty as their brother/sister in Christ to confront them. Remind them of the biblical model in Matthew 18 and tell them to stop spreading gossip. Encourage them to go to the person they're talking about and resolve the issue immediately.

Finally, remember that this is a serious issue to God. James 4:11-12 is very clear on this, stating that if you speak against someone, you are making yourself a judge over that person. According to the passage, there is only One Lawgiver and Judge, and that's not you.

God has called you to be a working member of a body to strengthen and build it up. You can't perform this duty if you are tearing it down with your words. Most times in life, things happen that we don't like and can't control. We can, however, control ourselves and how we respond to situations. I encourage you to respond with grace and dignity, remembering that you are a child of the King.

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