When you split from another church, a certain amount of curiosity and interest on the part of others outside the immediate situation is to be expected. In other words, people will talk, the downside of that being, of course, that not all that they say will be true. It is a hard truth to swallow that you may be misunderstood or mischaracterized and that there is no avenue to defend yourself. For the most part, it doesn't bother me so much, despite what how it may appear, what with me writing about it lo, these three years later. In fact, the more I have thought about it, I've concluded that I do not mind at all to be talked about in terms of what is true about what we believe, and what we are doing now as a church family. Go ahead, talk about us and how much we love Jesus or our allegiance to Scripture or our desire for the glory of God in all things. It's all true, insofar as our sinful selves can attest.
It's the stuff that isn't true that gets my goat.
As I said, we are nearly three years out from the split and, to me at least, it is so much water under the bridge. Those difficult early days, difficult not just in terms of public perception but even more so in terms of the sort of grief and shock that accompany such situations, are gone. I love my church, more than I can express in mere words on a screen, and if there is chatter I am pretty much far removed from it, perhaps isolated by the company of my fellow outcasts, as it were!
Kidding about the outcasts part. Ok, only somewhat. ;)
And then a few weeks ago a rumor about what we purportedly believe reached my ears via a couple of different avenues. I was shocked. And hurt. And maybe a little angry. Needless to say, what had been said about me wasn't true and seemed to me ridiculous, among other things and several other choice adjectives. Again I knew the frustration of having no recourse and again I knew the disappointment that people are talking about me with incorrect and outlandish accusations.
I can't help but think once again of our propensity as fallen people to choose to talk, to gossip, to whisper, to denigrate, rather than to choose to confront the issue head-on with truth. And I'm not just talking about those gossiping about me and my church and our beliefs. I'm guilty as well. Don't we prefer the shock value of whispered hearsay over the humble, gentle confrontation that both Paul and Jesus command? Don't I?
What if? What if, when someone was told that Lisa believed "____", what if they called me on the phone or shot me an email and said "Hey, I heard this. Is it true? If yes, can you explain why you think that?" What if we, believers, followers of Jesus Christ, you, me, loved each other enough and loved His church enough to speak the truth to each other with bold grace and gentle courage?