by Matt Mitchell
Heather and I are enjoying the CCEF national conference. Though very familiar with CCEF, we have never actual come to one of their big events. It is well-planned and full of good content.
We are thoroughly enjoying the city of Chattanooga–beautiful scenery, good eating, a comfortable quirky hotel. During our free time, we got to go to the Chattanooga Nature Center and Arboretum. Next week, I’ll post some of Heather’s nature photography from that exploration.
The theme of this conference is guilt and shame–differentiating between the two, seeing their icky effects in our lives, and finding the joy of freedom from both in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As I’ve been listening to the teaching, I have been thinking about how shame, especially, is linked to gossip.
Gossip is about shameful things. That’s one of the reasons why it gets whispered, why it is behind someone’s back. Gossip is about bad things that have been done or are going to be done. Gossip is about sinful things that a person has done or has done to them.
The person who is gossiping knows that there is shame involved–and they are enjoying it, using it, feeding off of it. Gossip is not a pretty thing (though it’s easy to joke about it). There is shame in being a gossip.
Good news–God loves the shamed.
One of the things that Ed Welch (author of Shame Interrupted) keeps repeating throughout this conference is that God has a special love, an attraction, a passion for those who have experienced shame. Ed says that this may be surprising and counter-intuitive, but it is real–God loves the shamed. In God’s gospel, there is covering, cleansing, and inclusion.
Those three relate to gossip, too.
Covering. “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” (Proverbs 17:9) Love covers. Gossip separates.
Cleansing. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Confession purifies. Hidden gossip putrefies.
Inclusion. “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” Gossip divides. Love unites.
This isn’t a major revolution of thought, but it is good to meditate upon. When we say “No” to gossip through faith in Christ, we are also saying “No” to shame and saying “Yes” to being like Christ who loves the shamed.