One thing I want you to keep in mind is that as God leads us to do ministry, there is also that force in the world that will work hard to prevent us from going forward. We will be tempted to give in to the powers that divide and bicker and fight and gossip which tears down and does not build up the body of Christ. We will be tempted to act and react sheerly out of raw emotion--and that does not do any of us any good. We need to keep focused on God and focused on our calling to be a church that lives the reality of the love of God.
I am amazed at all the "stories" that have circulated about Appalachian MCC, its pastor, and some of its members. I have come to realize that this is a part of life; and when anyone is trying to do what is right in following God's calling, there will be those who circulate stories that just aren't true.
When I am presented with humorous bits of "gossip”, I can't help but laugh. It gives me a real chuckle. Unfortunately, when some people hear such gossip and rumors that circulate, not everyone reacts like I do. Some people will accept it at face value, or they will dismiss it or they will do what others are doing -- believe the stories and spread them to others . We need to guard ourselves from being drawn into such things that can cause us to become divided.
You see, there has been a lot been said in the past that I have had to deal with that is simply not fact. It is nothing more than gossip and tale bearing. Let me share with you some wisdom from the book of Proverbs. These are some verses I love and hope you will enjoy them as well. "Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?" (Proverbs 18:8) Get the picture? You wouldn't want something that is bad for you--so why listen to gossip that is just as bad for you--spiritually?
I learned a long time ago that one wonderful way to bring gossip to an end was to do this. Someone will come to me and start out by saying something like this, "I've heard" . . . or . . . "Have you heard. . . " and then go on to share their bit of gossip. I respond, "Wow! Where did you hear that?" and usually the person will tell me. Then I always say, "Well, I am sure you won't mind if I ask 'so and so' about what you say they said." Almost always, the person sharing their bit of information will start to "spurt" and "stutter" and back peddle and ask that I not check their sources. Why? Because there is no basis in fact in what they are sharing.
You see, gossip is something that can do more harm to a ministry than most other things. It stirs up people’s emotions (usually the wrong ones) and causes division and strife where once there was peace and harmony. Another verse from Proverbs that might help illustrate this: "When you run out of wood, the fire goes out; when the gossip ends, the quarrel dies down." (Proverbs 26:20) I think the point of the Proverb is quite clear--don't load “logs” on a fire that doesn't need to be built!
If there is a fire that needs to be built, it is the fire of the Spirit of God that calls us to work as one, to love as Christ loves us, and to seek to build each other up in God--not try to bring other down. It is what Paul told us in the letter to the Ephesians: "Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with God and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that." (Ephesians 5:2) And also, "Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, 'How can I help'?" (Romans 15:2) Let us live lives that reflect the life and love of the Christ we claim to believe and follow. This is a time to prayer harder, believe more in the power of God's love, and to work together to bring the peace and unity of the Spirit of God that is ours in Christ!
So, if you want to know more about the stories or rumors that are floating about, you can always contact "Rumor Control." Or better yet, don't let the "logs" be put on the "fire" by not giving place to rumors or allowing a gossip to waste your time with their "cheap candy."
Let's keep our eye on the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus and let us run with patience that race that is before us to the glory of God.