Spreading the Word, reproducing rather than merely receiving

“God’s Word is no longer just being heard in a building; it is being multiplied throughout a community. It is multiplying because the people of God are no longer listening as if his Word is intended to stop with them. They are now living as if God’s Word is intended to spread through them.” – part of the text we covered in Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream in today’s Sunday school class. (My son is continually amazed that his mom likes going to Sunday school class.) This was part of a section talking about whether we are receivers or reproducers of God’s Word and discipleship. Gotta admit: I aspire to live my life in a way that glorifies God, through a variety of means. I put particular effort in certain areas where I’ve recognized God’s leading. But I’m not in an out-in-front kind of person, at least in that particular area of life. (Truth be told, I’m fairly quiet in lots of others and have to put a good bit of effort in the areas where my role does involve a certain amount of out-in-front.)

Today, though, I started jotting down notes and scribbles, ideas coming to mind of how to share. How do I share other things? Facebook, Twitter, this blog, maybe Google+ in the future. I spread ideas or pointers to things and let folks consume at their own pace, much as I consume and ruminate on lots of other stuff. Why not do the same? Some of the examples in the book talked about folks who took their pastor’s teaching from Sunday and then shared it more broadly. Why couldn’t I do this here? I don’t honestly believe there’s a lot of traffic here to see this… but putting it out here is a step of faith that God can use this in some way useful to glorify Him.

So, with that intro: today’s sermon was about gossip. Pastor Glenn’s full slides are up on our church’s site, and I’d encourage you to take a look.

Starting text: Proverbs 16:28: “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” We’ve been going through themes in Proverbs lately, and Pastor Glenn pointed out that Solomon gives a lot of space to gossip in the Proverbs. We talked about gossip being idle talk or rumor, something that rings true even if not approaching this from a Christian perspective. Pastor Glenn said that it could be harmless or even a good thing: I’d count that as spread of good news. If I mention someone’s baby being born, I’m community-building (I think). If I mention that I think that baby’s Daddy isn’t sure it’s his, welp, I’m pretty sure that’s not doing anyone any good.

We talked about gossip being the opposite of peacemaking (“stirs up dissension”), about it causing folks who are outside of a conflict to take sides (and thus spread the conflict), and Solomon’s wisdom in declaring “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him” (Proverbs 18:17). We talked about gossip being necessarily not full truth, as the full story isn’t there – it’s the truth as at best presented from one side of a story. Thus spreading it is a form of false witness (see Proverbs 21:28 for the outcome there) and encourages us to judge each other based on incomplete information. “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent— the LORD detests them both.” (Proverbs 17:15). [That’s not even going near the texts that indicate that judgement and vengeance aren’t mine.]

What about when we’re on the receiving end of gossip’s club (Proverbs 25:18) or are otherwise wronged in a way that causes us to want to lash out through gossip? (Boy, doesn’t that image fit?!) Pastor Glenn described our desired reaction as this: (quoting from my notes, rather than him directly): “God love to rescue somebody who waits on Him to vindicate them, so God can be glorified. If we retaliate through gossip, we lose the opportunity to watch God work through us.” The image that jumps to mind is when one of my kids hits their sibling because they’ve been hit first: sort of makes it hard to punish the original offense.

What about if we hear gossip? Recommendation was to pray that God glorify Himself and bless those who trust in Him, but leave the particulars of the gossip itself alone. Why spend time in considering the spread of muck? Why “pay attention to a destructive tongue” (Proverbs 17:4)? My favorite verse of the morning: “Like someone who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.” (Proverbs 26:17)

So, you made it to the bottom here of my first attempt to faithfully reproduce and comment upon our sermon from the morning. I’m just “reproducing” : the original sermon will be up on our church’s website within the next few weeks. Looks like the ‘Recent Messages’ area is a bit behind at the moment, but there’s plenty of good material there, from both the series on Proverbs as well as other areas. Would also encourage you to check out the sermon streaming live next week: there’s a link from the front page – the service is streamed at 9:30 and 11:00 (Eastern time, for any of you who aren’t East Coast). I’ll be away next Sunday – we’ll see if I get to catch it that way myself. If I do, will try this out again. Otherwise, planning on enjoying a weekend away with the hubby and a visit with his bro (hopefully catching a ride on the back of his motorcycle) before getting “out-in-front” at the MIL-OSS conference. Somebody write one of these things and let me know what I miss in the Proverbs series, in case I don’t catch it online…

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