Church: One of us walked in to a local shop yesterday to be told that they had heard that the local church was going to be knocked down to enable more housing to be built in there area. When it was pointed out that the church owned the land and that there had been no discussion, suggestion or even planning meeting regarding such an action - the response was, 'Oh yeah! (shrug)'
The same is true of the many accounts of sin and general naughtiness that people have engaged in. I have even been at the wrong end of it myself when someone came and said how they had heard from (person 1) that (person 2) had told them how I (the accused) had thrown (person 3) out of the church.
So I asked them whether they, knowing me, thought that I might even have thrown anyone out of a church and after a minute or two spent thinking (now that caused a bit of pain that they had to think that long) they answered, 'Of course not!'
So I asked them, 'So why did you believe it when you heard to from (person 1)?' The response was, 'Oooh! I don't know know, but they were so convincing!'
The problem is that gossip is always juicy and people are always ready to listen to those things that tickle the ears and point fingers at others. The Bible deals with the issue of gossip (which is often labelled more correctly as 'slander') and also with the way.
It would be so nice to find Christians working on the understanding that: 'One person's story sounds great until you hear the other person's side of things.'
This is, of course, a biblical take on things (Proverbs 18.17). The best way to deal with people who might share things out of concern (not the opportunity to share a bit of juicy conversation at all!) is to ask them what they did with the information when it was being given:
Did they check the accuracy of the information?
have they found out the story from the other side's viewpoint?
Did they offer to broker a conversation and restore the peace?
We are called to restore those caught in sin (gently*) and to reconcile those who are separated by division; perhaps Colossians 3.13 is a help here:
'You need to 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.'
This is who and what and how we are to live, and to assist others to live.
After all, Jesus came to reconcile us to God - we live to reconcile others to God and to one another because we are called to imitate Jesus, the Christ. Do we?
Not when we gossip and slander and enjoy the juicy titbits - we need to stop and check the facts and be careful how we pass stuff on to others. Check your sources and be looking to reconcile rather than repeat. This is the way the Gospel is lived out and the love of God seen to be in action. Before you hit the 'Enter' key or send that email:
Stop - Think - Pray - Be sure of your facts - Think Again - Press 'Enter'
And here's a little note for those who use Facebook:
WARNING: From the 1st October Facebook is making public every stupid thing you have ever posted and done.
Not only that but they are going to tell God, the tooth fairy and Richard Dorking about you (and I'm only convinced that two of them are fictional characters so there's cause for real concern here!) unless you pay £5.99 for every month you have been a member.
BUT, if you cut and paste this on your Facebook page before midnight, when the angel of being charged will be checking ALL accounts, then it will pass over and you will be free from all the penalties which otherwise would have been yours.
This is not a spoof, the information can be found on the website of a Liberal Democrat supporter and has been endorsed by a man in a white rhinestone suit who was singing outside Farm Foods in Tamworth yesterday (so much for those who thought he was dead!).
Be warned - if you don't repost this then be prepared to pay for your use and for your sins (I know one of the three is watching).
This is not a spoof, there are so many people on Facebook making this information known and there are many who knew someone who has a friend who knows that this is true also. This is official.
* Galatians 6.1