Monday, July 7, 2014


GOSSIP – information about the behavior and personal lives of other people.

But not all information about people is gossip. Nor is all gossip about people.

Take Paul for example: When he wrote his letters, it was generally because he had “heard” something about the church to which he was writing; good or bad. That is how news traveled in those days and that was an acceptable way to pass information on.

As we follow the life of Paul as told in Acts, beginning at Chapter 14, we find this in action. And when we read his letters we discover how “personal” these messages could be. Yet, they are not considered gossip, just reporting the news and responding to it. [As far as I am concerned, "gossip" is any information passed on to anyone who does not need to know it by someone who wants to gain by it.] Gossip is almost always mean. Information shared in love is almost never mean. But it can alert others to a problem that needs attention.

As I read the sinful practices going on in Corinth, particularly as found in 1 Corinthians, I take a moment to realize that, even with the horrors we deal with today, there is nothing new under the sun. I seems that all the things we are trying to strike out against right now were hugely present in Corinth at that time.

It can be clearly seen today that the issues that bring people away from God's Word now, are not any different than those which confused and tore at the churches in the early days of the Church. The prevailing pressures and sins are very much the same.

Yes, we have glaring sin going on all around us until we can hardly stand to read or listen to the news. Yes, we have abhorrent ideas being administered into our system of life. Yes, we have things happening around us that make us want to throw up when we hear or see the next ugly thing.

But, so did they.

They were “young” Christians, very young. Even though the Apostles, who were grown men of various ages, they were nevertheless also young in their faith. They had three years of walking with Jesus, but it was still an eye and heart opening event when they actually became the Sons of God that knew wholly and completely the salvation of Jesus Christ, revealed to them through the Holy Spirit. They were just babies when they first preached. Yet the power of God was in and with them and they spoke out like old souls in Christ. They also took on the responsibilities of old souls: seeing to the salvation and growth of new souls, babes in Christ.

Paul's opportunity came a little later, but it was no less miraculous and soul changing. He was put into immediate service and immediate training. He had to “grow up” fast. He was not on “milk” ever, I think. It was immediate steak.

A week ago the sermon was about Paul's travels and companionship with disciples traveling with him. In chapter 17, we were shown that for all his travel's and all his changes of companions, Paul never once veered from the central core of the Gospel: The death, burial and resurrection of Christ. And the result never changed: Some, even many, and many more, were saved. The Apostles preached and God handled the results. But it was necessary for the Apostles to preach the Gospel, and that alone, for the result to happen. Getting the church started was an enormous task that only God could ultimately accomplish.

However, raising these babes fell into the hands of those whom God allowed to bring them into the family of Christ through the preaching of the Gospel. The Apostles and their companions stayed with the new Christians whenever time allowed and with the help of the Spirit, proclaimed as much of Christ's teaching as they possibly could; using the minds and knowledge that God gave them, with power from God. There were more disciples in the crowd of believers that followed Jesus and stayed with the apostles than we actually usually think about. Many of those assisted in teaching and training as it went on.

Thus, Paul's letters.

And, by the way, the verbal “grapevine” of Gossip is obvious to me, as a reader of these letters; there definitely was a “grapevine” that served as a news network. 

But, back to the point, without gossip in those days, nothing would be known, whether good or bad. And Paul was hearing a lot of it, by letter and by word of mouth. This was a good thing. Even though some of the reports were bad news about bad behavior, it was what Paul needed to hear if he was to be prayerfully, or otherwise, influential in the growth of his children. Paul needed to know and Paul responded to what he was told: Good news or bad. And Paul's responses were sent in love, but not the wimpy kind. It was tough love all the way.

And when Paul knew, he wrote. He wrote to the Church at large (including us) by writing to individual churches and seeking to have them share the letter with other churches. It was never his intention to be secretive about these letters. He praised and admonished with the entire church in mind; so as to teach all of them the lessons that he taught to any single church. The truth had nothing in it to be secretive about. Perhaps sometimes the truth of a situation needs to be told publicly to inform and to stop gossip.

Anyway – I find the topics that Paul gets into to be quite relevant today. And I find that the things that break our hearts today, broke his in his day. Things like the list of sins that can be found over and over again throughout the Bible, Things like the rise of homosexual influence and power. Things like hate mongering. Things like human trafficking; the killing of innocent babies; the laziness of relationships that leads to many kinds of immorality; the crush of society by those who rise in wealth and power. It all goes on today just as it did then and before then.

But the example that Paul sets for us is that he paid attention and that he responded, good or bad. He never let anything ride. He never varied from aiming people's lives back to the Gospel, and to everything it means to us in our lives and in our deaths. He dealt with it all and he prescribed the remedy and sent it with much prayer and thanksgiving for the people he was addressing.

I think that in this day we must pay attention to the threats going on around us and around our loved ones, in and out of the church. And, in this day, we must speak up. We must take a stand: Paul told the Corinthians to “stand firm” against the evil invading the church and their personal lives. We must do the same. If we are to love one another and follow any of the “one another” commands that God gave us, then we must speak up for one another as if our lives depend on it – because they do. God is in control and could stop it all if He wanted to. But Paul knew that, too, and he did not sit back and let it all happen just because he knew what God could do.

He knew that it was his responsibility to speak up and to send out all the help he could possibly send to each and every crisis.

We are in crisis. We are in jeopardy. We need to speak up. We need to stop some of these things that are happening. We need to wise up and stop letting the Government and the world around us creep up on everything that can be good, but is being changed to bad. We need to take some lessons from Paul and the other Apostles and disciples and get the word out that we are not going to sit still for this; and then we need to keep moving, and moving hard to rid ourselves of these influences on us and on our neighbors and on our collective children.

WHY get involved? Perhaps because God told us to love our neighbors as ourselves and our neighbors need some serious protecting right now. Paul lived every single day knowing that his life would end early. He also lived every day knowing that Christ could come any minute, and praying for that to happen. But he never, ever, sat back and said, “Well, one way or another things are in God's hands, so I am going to stop what I need to be doing and sit and watch for His adjustments to these things. He is in charge. He will take care of it somehow.” Never, never, never, ever did he say or do that. And neither should we.

One continuous theme in Paul's letter is that we are to not only protect ourselves from this world, but we are to set out to protect this world from this world.

We have a responsibility to have a voice and a vote in what is going on around us. And to have a voice in declaring the same Gospel that Paul never veered away from. Love your neighbor as yourself means more than being nice. It means doing all that we can to protect them from themselves and from others who would take them down. Why? Because that is what we do for ourselves, if we love ourselves.

May we reach out and love our neighbors enough to try to help bring this country back to some semblance of itself: The country that was established on Judeo/Christian values and common sense; the statements of which were established in writing In the Declaration, the Preamble, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. So long as we are still here on this earth we must be actively seeking change to the good in this country – our neighbors. If we love them we need to protect them in every way we can.

May God bless us today and everyday as we struggle together to make a difference in Christ's name.

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