I read two magazines last week. My father had a Charisma Magazine laying around and I had not seen one in almost 20 years since I gave up reading it because I felt I needed to take a shower when I did. It was filled with self-promotion, boasting, and exalting men and women instead of Christ. It expressed everything that had gone wrong with the Charismatic Renewal and at the time appealed to all the wrong motivations inside me. And that has always been sad to me, because the reality of the Spirit working in each of our lives is the most important component to this journey of knowing and loving him. But so quickly those who built empires out of it turned toward personal greed, judgments against others who didn’t have “the anointing”, and distorting the image of God by their demeanor and focus on performance.
So it was interesting to read it again and though I was still turned off by misplaced priorities of this publication, but it didn’t stir up any of the old motivations I struggles so hard to resist. And I found the last article by Lee Grady, which talked about how the life of the Spirit had been quenched by those who used the Renewal for their own ambitions. Strange. The magazine had just exalted the very people who had done the things Grady said destroyed God’s purpose in the Renewal. Of course, he doesn’t see it that way, nor do the editors of Charisma, which makes it all the more sadder.
Then I read National Geographic this month, which has a wonderful piece about Pope Francis. I realize the aquarium he swims in is an oppressive religious institution that is given to indulgence and gratification, like every human institution. I even think the title he carries is an affront to the message Jesus taught and the life that he lived. That said, I love his approach to the position he has been thrust upon him. He lives simply, loves the touch with common people, and is challenging his institution back to a heart for the marginalized people in our culture. I do admire that. It’s an article worth reading and I came away appreciating the challenge he faces to stay true to his heart in the midst of such delusions about power, and the pomp and circumstance of his office.
I had a friend recently meet with Pope Francis who said he had a heart for all of God’s children to be united under the name of Jesus, not the Catholic church, but who Jesus is and what he came to do in the world. That’s an awesome statement.
And then yesterday morning this quote from him crossed my desk. I love it.
For me, the sign that there is no brotherliness is gossip.…There may be various points of view and differences (this is normal and it is Christian), but these differences must be brought out by having the courage to speak directly to others.…And when this is not possible, because at times it cannot be done, tell another person who can act as an intermediary. But you cannot speak against another person, because gossip is the terrorism…of religious communities.
Source: Vatican Information Service, March 23, 2015
”Gossip is the terrorism of community.” I love that. I have often said that the surest evidence of community is open and authentic lives. The surest evidence that it does not exist is gossip. Gossip only prevalis where people pretend to be better than they are, but when people are already open and authentic about their strengths and weaknesses it holds no power.
I‘ve been part of many wonderful connections that have been destroyed as soon as whisper campaigns began by those who had more to gain by destroying community than enjoying it’s beauty. It is painful to see God make such wonderful connections and then have them squandered wittingly or unwittlingly by the insidious power of gossip. Those who do not have the integrity to talk directly to those with whom they have differences and who will instead talk them down behind their back, unleashes great destruction on the body of Christ and the culture of the world we live in.
As much as it lies within you avoid every opportunity for gossip, sharing the concerns you have only with the person you have them about. The family of God and indeed the world would be a better place if we didn’t tear each other down behind their back.