To Those Who Call Christ Lord,
I remember sitting in Dr. Joe Richardson’s office with my Mom and Dad. When he walked in you could tell by the expression on his face the news wasn’t going to be very good. In fact it was much much worse than we had expected…cancer…in Dad’s bladder, liver, lungs, and spine. Spreading so far and wide within his body that there was very little they could do, and that was the case…diagnosed on December 14th 2003 and Dad died on March 2nd 2004…it took just a little over two months for this cancer to totally destroy my Dad’s earthly body. The wonderful news for my Father, Mother and their entire family was the eternal hope that my Dad had through his relationship with Christ Jesus. Begun as a child, forged in the black forest of Germany as he lost a leg in the battle of the bulge…and lived out as he loved and cared for his wife and family for the next 60 years. But the cancer was horrible…it took his health and strength away completely…and then it took his earthly life.
I think of my Dad’s cancer every time I hear someone begin a sentence…”I’ve had some people say to me.” or “So and So is telling everyone that one of the staff made her unhappy.” When Jesus says, “That a little bit of yeast affects the entire batch of dough.” I wonder if beyond legalism if he was thinking about our conversations…or our treatment of others with our words. A little bit of cancer left untreated…or left to run amuck within the body will certainly kill the body…and before that death…the body will be extremely sick. What really is Gossip? I like this definition…”It’s hurtful or private information that is used for entertainment, or to make the one who shares it feel powerful because of secret knowledge.” Have you ever discovered that when you’re talking to someone in a group and you mention that someone is in the hospital or been through surgery there is always someone who wants to share more of the details…or other information that isn’t widely known? Why? Because it makes us feel good..more important to have “secret knowledge,” information that the average Joe doesn’t have. We’re in the “Know.” We’re part of the “elite.” But gossip and slander aren’t the same things. Slander is degrading another individual. Like “Did you know I saw Rick headed into the liquor store the other day!” “I saw Brad having lunch with someone who wasn’t his wife…wonder what THAT’S all about?” But gossip and slander aren’t even the same as having a critical heart. A critical heart begins to look for the bad, even secretly enjoying the bad (for the “secret knowledge” reason). The scary part of all these is that they flow from our heart. The Hebrew word for heart is “leb” and it means “the seat of the intellect.” It is comprised of more than just our feelings…it’s made up of our thoughts, our attitudes, our feelings…The “Leb” is the very core of who we are….and what happens if the very seat of who we are begins to enjoy the “secret” knowledge of gossip, slander or criticisms?
Jesus said: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit…thus by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15, 16, 17, 20)
It’s important we realize that Jesus is speaking to people who disguise themselves in the clothing of religion…but the relationships and fruit that is produced is anything but healthy…it’s a cancer!!!!! And dealing with it can be anything but fun…it’s ferocious…it will get you crucified if you speak the truth with boldness. What do I recommend? Speak the truth with boldness anyway…zealously guard the life of the body…whether the cancer gives a lot of money or has family connections, are is mean and vindictive.
The body of Christ is much like the human body…the apostle Paul says so anyway in many places. Jesus Christ is the head of this body, but even though the head can generate the truth, even speak that truth through His perfect, Holy Word…some body’s will listen and start working out their faith…and some will not listen and will die because of cancer…Just a couple of recommendations from the heart of a lead Minister…
1. Do not show favoritism because of money, position, or family connections. This doesn’t mean you will like everyone the same. But when it comes to important, eternal issue, treat everyone as valuable.
2. Speak the truth with grace. Jesus was equally filled with truth and grace. He perfectly discerned when to speak truth and when to speak grace. I’m not Jesus, and neither are you, but if you are His child “His Spirit” lives within you and will open your heart and mouth at just the right times to speak truth and grace.
3. If you are a leader, or a person of influence (either sex) when you have the opportunity to recognize a cancerous situation…address it. Choose the support of others over becoming a conduit that “unhealthy” people use to get their way.
4. If someone is “high maintenance” or has been a cancer within the body of Christ for a long long time…hope for change, but express to this individual “It’s time you grow up or shut up.”
5. Keep the right priorities…love lost people…love people who hurt, and expect Christ followers to constantly be growing in their faith
Cancer…it’s a horrible thing in the human body…and “spiritual” cancer is a horrible thing in the body of Christ…remember…“Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Do not greive the Holy Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:29, 30
Solomon said that…”There is life in our words and death in our words,” (proverbs 12:18) And every single one of us have experienced people that bring us life…and we’ve experienced those who bring death to our spirits. May we choose the words of the resurrection.
Loving the family of God,