Monday, June 29, 2015

How to Mourn with the Parents of Stillborn and Miscarried Children

Our twin son David was stillborn. If this has happened to you as a parent, here's a helpful article: "How to Mourn with the Parents of Stillborn and Miscarried Children."

Hoping Beyond Death

So-Fee and me

One day I will die. Death is more certain than taxes. Though death will come to us all, many live in denial of that truth. 

One result of my conversion to Christ 44 years ago was a greater awareness of death. Being a philosophy major helped me, since "death" is a very philosophical theme. Heidegger, for example, told us that life is best lived in light of one's death. The death of Socrates, as told by Plato, is philosophically famous as a example of a good life and a good death. Attending a theological seminary and becoming a pastor meant that I was always being called into life-and-death situations, some of which ended, of course, in death.

I have done many funerals. I did the funerals of my mother, my father, and Linda's mother and father. My infant stillborn son David never got a funeral because of the crazy circumstances surrounding his expiration. When you minister at a funeral you deal with death. You meet with people whose loved ones are gone.

I have cried at the death of loved ones. I cried when we put our dog So-Fee "to sleep" a few years ago. That was one of the hardest things I have ever done. We loved her so much! Driving her to the veterinarian's office as when she was dying was, for me, ridiculously painful. The fact that she trusted in us, in me, but could not be communicated to, made the situation harder. It also made me angry. Angry... at death... at the fact of death.

For several years I was the pastoral chaplain at the Mid-Michigan Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Lansing. This was Sparrow Hospital's "HOPING" group. HOPING: Helping Other Parents In Normal Grieving. My loss of David made me, in some way, "a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief." So once or twice a year I would speak, representing HOPING, to parents who just lost their children in the hospital. That was intense. It still feels intense as I write about it.

I will never forget these things. I do not want to forget them. I cannot and should not forget that death is still with us. In times of death, in times of walking through the valley of the shadow of death, some people think and reflect. Not all, but some. I once did a funeral where friends of the drug-overdosed deceased were having a tailgate "party" in the funeral parking lot. Alcohol was their drug of choice for dealing with grief. They staggered into the funeral service having failed to "drown their sorrows."

I see every funeral as a God-opportunity. Worldviews kick in at funerals. Life is way, way bigger than death. Some people are weighing things, evaluating things, dealing with incomplete things, with unsaid things that should have been said, with the experiential finality of death, and with their own mortality. All of these are thematic in the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. I share how forgiveness is possible in Jesus, and how in His resurrection we have hope beyond the grave. As I speak I see people who are listening, who are HOPING. Some who live in denial come out of that dark closet and stand, for a while, in the light. In that moment they are looking for some hope, and before them stands the Hope of the World.

How do I handle death? I like what Thomas Merton said after one of his healthy meditations on life's mortality: "The important thing is simply turning to [God] daily, preferring his will and mystery to everything that is evidently and tangibly "mine."" (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander) Note the quotes around the word "mine" since, obviously, we own nothing in this earthly life. This includes other people. I don't even think we own our own selves. 

I'm going to die. You are too. But Christ has been raised. Therefore I have hope, and you can, too. Today I choose to live in the light of that eschatological hope and connect with "Christ, the HOPE of glory."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Supreme Court Is Not My Shepherd: Part 2

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision to change the definition of marriage it is important for Jesus-followers to remember whose kingdom they really belong to. Jesus did not come to establish "Christian nations." He said "My kingdom is not of this world," while rejecting opportunities and invitations to rule over Israel as an earthly king. (See, e.g., Greg Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation.) 

It is also important to understand that:

1) Every person has an ethical worldview. (See, e.g., Lewis Vaughn, The Power of Critical Thinking, Chapter 11, on applying logic to ethical thinking.)
2) In formulating an ethical system no one looks to Supreme Court rulings for guidance. 
3) This means that, as a Jesus-follower, the Supreme Court has no influence on my ethical worldview. 

In my worldview "marriage" is defined as between a male and a female. While I might have been glad had the Supreme Court agreed with me, such agreement would not bolster my already-established ethical position on marriage. In the same way the Court's decision to define marriage unethically (as seen from my worldview's POV) is fundamentally irrelevant to me. 

Note: One excellent example of formulating a Christian Worldview is Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament

In Green Lake, Wisconsin

Linda and I are in Green Lake, Wisconsin, for our annual HSRM conference. 

On Wednesday night I'll be speaking n our main session on "Jesus and Money." I am very excited to give this message!

I'll also lead two workshops/seminars. The first is on "Leading the Presence-Driven Church: The Distinction Between Discerning and Deciding." The second will be an informal Q&A around theological and cultural studies I've been doing. I'll give the participants a bibliography, with some explanation. Then we'll discuss whatever. I'm looking forward to doing this.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Protecting Your Ministry From Sexual Orientation Lawsuits

Will the Supreme Court's irreligious decision to redefine marriage affect pastors and churches? For those of us concerned that our government may one day force us to act against our strong, decided moral judgments, one helpful resource is: "Protecting Your Ministry From Sexual Orientation Gender Identity Lawsuits" (thank you Lora and Grady).

This is a major resource, well put-together, that may prove helpful in these eroding times. (It's free to download.)

From the booklet, p. 1 - "SOGIs [Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity ordinances] have been invoked to attempt to force Christian photographers, bakers, and florists to participate in same-sex ceremonies, in violation of their religious beliefs about sexuality and marriage. They have been used to attempt to force a Christian printer to create advertisements celebrating a "gay pride" festival. SOGIs have been used to attempt to force Christian owners of wedding venues to host same-sex ceremonies, and Christian adoption agencies to choose between placing babies in motherless or fatherless same-sex homes or go out of business... [In this booklet] you will find examples of what other Christians around the country are facing; how your church, school, or ministry may be vulnerable to similar threats; and what you can do to secure crucial legal protections to help enable you to weather the fast-approaching legal storms."

Some of my friends have responded back to me wondering if my response is more fear-based and protectionist. Yes and no. My thoughts are:

  • There are rational fears, to which we should respond if possible. 
  • Some of us (like myself) have followed this discussion for 40 years. So I doubt that my response to the Supreme Court decision to redefine the word 'marriage' is reactive. Responsive, yes. Reactive, no. Concerned, yes. 
  • Churches may be vulnerable to similar threats. Therefore I and others see it as wisdom to anticipate what we see as rational, threatening possibilities to our religious freedoms. Wisdom looks ahead. This wisdom (while not perfect) is grounded in heaps of socio-cultural studies and observations over a period of many years (for me, beginning in 1975).
Wayne Grudem says: "This is an outstanding resource that will prove immensely valuable to every church and Christian organization. It comes with significant credibility, because it has been produced by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the nation's largest Christian legal defense organization, and an organization for which I have deep admiration, respect, and thanksgiving to God."


 " Without soul freedom we have no other liberties. The church cannot outsource our convictions to the state. This resource wisely helps equip churches on how to remain faithful to our mission in a culture that often disagrees with our message."
Russell D. Moore, President
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Supreme Court Is Not My Shepherd (the Same-Sex Marriage Decision)

If the Supreme Court was my shepherd I would be in extreme wanting today. Fortunately my moral and ethical framework is not, and never has been, a function of our country's Supreme Court rulings. I began working out my ethical-theological viewpoint on same-sex issues back in 1981. I have occasionally presented my position on this blog, and in a number of other venues. See:

"Same-Sex Marriage Is Not About "Rights""

"Same-Sex Marriage Is Not About "Marriage Equality," But About the Definition of 'Marriage'"

Christianity Today has a helpful article which I'll post in full - "Here We Stand: An Evangelical Definition of Marriage: Nearly 100 leaders respond to Supreme Court legalizing marriage." 

As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image. We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage represents what seems like the result of a half-century of witnessing marriage’s decline through divorce, cohabitation, and a worldview of almost limitless sexual freedom. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.
The Bible clearly teaches the enduring truth that marriage consists of one man and one woman. From Genesis to Revelation, the authority of Scripture witnesses to the nature of biblical marriage as uniquely bound to the complementarity of man and woman. This truth is not negotiable. The Lord Jesus himself said that marriage is from the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6), so no human institution has the authority to redefine marriage any more than a human institution has the authority to redefine the gospel, which marriage mysteriously reflects (Eph. 5:32). The Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage demonstrates mistaken judgment by disregarding what history and countless civilizations have passed on to us, but it also represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.
Evangelical churches must be faithful to the biblical witness on marriage regardless of the cultural shift. Evangelical churches in America now find themselves in a new moral landscape that calls us to minister in a context growing more hostile to a biblical sexual ethic. This is not new in the history of the church. From its earliest beginnings, whether on the margins of society or in a place of influence, the church is defined by the gospel. We insist that the gospel brings good news to all people, regardless of whether the culture considers the news good or not.
The gospel must inform our approach to public witness. As evangelicals animated by the good news that God offers reconciliation through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, we commit to:
  • Respect and pray for our governing authorities even as we work through the democratic process to rebuild a culture of marriage (Rom. 13:1-7);
  • teach the truth about biblical marriage in a way that brings healing to a sexually broken culture;
  • affirm the biblical mandate that all persons, including LGBT persons, are created in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect;
  • love our neighbors regardless of whatever disagreements arise as a result of conflicting beliefs about marriage;
  • live respectfully and civilly alongside those who may disagree with us for the sake of the common good;
  • cultivate a common culture of religious liberty that allows the freedom to live and believe differently to prosper.
The redefinition of marriage should not entail the erosion of religious liberty. In the coming years, evangelical institutions could be pressed to sacrifice their sacred beliefs about marriage and sexuality in order to accommodate whatever demands the culture and law require. We do not have the option to meet those demands without violating our consciences and surrendering the gospel. We will not allow the government to coerce or infringe upon the rights of institutions to live by the sacred belief that only men and women can enter into marriage.
The gospel of Jesus Christ determines the shape and tone of our ministry.Christian theology considers its teachings about marriage both timeless and unchanging, and therefore we must stand firm in this belief. Outrage and panic are not the responses of those confident in the promises of a reigning Christ Jesus. While we believe the Supreme Court has erred in its ruling, we pledge to stand steadfastly, faithfully witnessing to the biblical teaching that marriage is the chief cornerstone of society, designed to unite men, women, and children. We promise to proclaim and live this truth at all costs, with convictions that are communicated with kindness and love.
A.B Vines
Senior Pastor
New Seasons Church
Afshin Ziafat 
Lead Pastor
Providence Church - Frisco, TX.
Alistair Begg 
Senior Pastor
Parkside Church
Andrew T. Walker 
Director of Policy Studies
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Bart Barber 
First Baptist Church of Famersville
Bruce Frank 
Senior Pastor
Biltmore Baptist Church
Bruce Riley Ashford 
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Bryan Carter 
Concord Church
Bryan Chapell 
Senior Pastor
Grace Presbyterian Church
Bryan Loritts 
Pastor of Preaching and Mission
Trinity Grace Church, Kainos Movement
Bryant Wright 
Senior Pastor
Johnson Ferry Baptist Church
Carmen Fowler LaBerge 
Presbyterian Lay Committee
Christine Hoover 
Christopher Yuan 
Speaker, Author, Bible Teacher
Clint Pressley 
Pastor & Former VP of SBC
Hickory Grove Baptist Church
Collin Hansen 
Editorial Director
The Gospel Coalition
D.A. Carson 
Research Professor of NT
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
D.A. Horton
Daniel Darling 
Vice-President of Communications
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Daniel Patterson 
Chief of Staff
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Danny Akin 
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
David E. Prince
Assistant Professor of Christian Preaching
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
David French 
National Review
David Jeremiah
Senior Pastor
Shadow Mountain Community Church
David S. Dockery 
Trinity International University/Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
David Platt 
International Mission Board
David Uth 
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Orlando
Dean Inserra 
Lead Pastor
City Church, Tallahassee
Dennis Rainey 
Family Life Today
Eric Teetsel 
Executive Director
Manhattan Declaration
Erwin W. Lutzer 
Senior Pastor
The Moody Church
Fred Luter 
Franklin Avenue Baptist Church
Gabriel Salguero 
National Latino Evangelical Coalition
H.B. Charles Jr.
Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church
Heath Lambert
Executive Director
Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
Hunter Baker 
Associate Professor of Political Science; Dean of Instruction
Union University
James MacDonald 
Harvest Bible Chapel
J.P. Moreland 
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy
Biola University
J.D. Greear 
The Summit Church
J.I. Packer 
Board of Governors’ Professor, Theology
Regent College
Jason Allen 
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Jeff Iorg
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Jim Daly 
Focus on the Family
Jimmy Scroggins 
Lead Pastor
Family Church, West Palm Beach
John Bradosky Presiding Bishop North American Lutheran Church
John Stonestreet 
Speaker and Fellow
The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Johnny Hunt 
First Baptist Church of Woodstock
Jonathan Leeman 
Editorial Director
Juan R. Sanchez, Jr. 
Senior Pastor
High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin, Texas
Justin Taylor
Karen Swallow Prior 
Fellow, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Convention Fellow
Professor of English, Liberty University
Ken Whitten 
Senior Pastor
Idlewild Baptist Church
Kevin DeYoung
Senior Pastor
University Reformed Church
Kevin Ezell 
North American Mission Board
Kevin Smith 
Teaching Pastor
Highview Baptist Church
Mark Dever 
Senior Pastor
Capitol Hill Baptist Church
Marvin Olasky 
WORLD Magazine
Matt Carter 
Pastor of Preaching and Vision
The Austin Stone Community Church
Matt Chandler 
Senior Pastor
The Village Church
Matthew Lee Anderson 
Lead Writer
Mere Orthodoxy
Mike Cosper
Pastor of Worship and Arts
Sojourn Community Church
Mike Glenn 
Senior Pastor
Brentwood Baptist Church
Naghmeh Abedini
Nancy Leigh DeMoss 
Revive our Hearts
Nathan Lino 
Lead Pastor
Northeast Houston Baptist Church
Owen Strachan
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Paul Nyquist 
President and CEO
Moody Bible Institute
Phillip Bethancourt 
Executive Vice President
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. 
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Ramon Osorio 
Hispanic National Church Mobilizer
North American Mission Board
Randy Alcorn 
Eternal Perspectives Ministries
Ray Ortlund 
Lead Pastor
Immanuel Nashville
Richard D. Land
Southern Evangelical Seminary
Richard Mouw 
Professor of Faith and Public Life
Fuller Seminary
Robert Sloan 
Houston Baptist University
Roger Spradlin 
Senior Pastor
Valley Baptist Church, Bakersfield, CA
Ron Sider 
Senior Distinguished Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry, and Public Policy
Palmer Seminary at Eastern University
Ronnie Floyd 
President, Southern Baptist Convention
Senior Pastor, Cross Church
Rosaria Butterfield 
Author and Speaker
Russell Moore 
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Sam Storms 
Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision
Bridgeway Church
Samuel W. "Dub" Oliver 
Union University
Samuel Rodriguez 
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
Thomas White 
Cedarville University
Timothy George 
Dean and Professor of Divinity
Beeson Divinity School
Todd Wagner 
Senior Pastor
Watermark Church
Tommy Nelson Sr.
Denton Bible Church
Tony Evans
Senior Pastor
Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship
Tony Merida 
Pastor for Preaching
Imago Dei Church
Tory Baucum 
Truro Anglican Church
Trillia Newbell 
Director of Community Outreach
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Trip Lee
Rapper, Author, Pastor
Vance Pitman 
Senior Pastor
Hope Church, Las Vegas, NV

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Love Never Fails

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love always trusts. Love always hopes. Love always perseveres. Love never fails. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7,13
From here

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love always trusts. Love always hopes. Love always perseveres. Love never fails. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7,13

Solitude As the Place of the Great Encounter

Munson Park in Monroe
Henri Nouwen writes: "Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter— the struggle against the compulsion of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self." (Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart)

What does Nouwen mean by this?

First, "solitude" is being alone with God. There can be an interior solitude even when others are around. This inner condition is cultivated as one takes much time, without the presence of other people, to be alone in the presence of God.

Second, solitude is the place of the "great struggle." The struggle is "against the compulsion of the false self." This is the self that has come out of the kingdom of darkness. The false self is life-denying, controlling, manipulative, fearful, defeatist, and condemning. In solitude, especially as one begins to practice it, these unloving voices can make the experience crushing. In our busyness we have covered them up. Now, in our solitary unbusyness, the voices of darkness step onto the stage of our soul and recite their lines.

Third, solitude is also the place of the "great encounter." Here we meet "the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self." Here is God, who calls our name, saying, "You are my beloved child." In the God-encounter nothing surpasses this.

In solitude, the false self is burned away by the purging fires of loving holiness. This is soul's transformation into the joyous freedom of Christlikeness.

There Are No Critics In the Revolution

When I became a Jesus-follower through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ I was given a book by an unknown (to me) author named Bill Bright. His book was titled "Revolution Now." "What is this," I thought, "Marxism?" I just got saved from drug and alcohol abuse, which was beautiful. What I did not realize was that I had just enlisted in The Revolution.

I was in the Jesus Movement. Not the "Jesus Institution." It is essential to understand this distinction. The "Jesus Institution" is mostly spectator sport minus the word "sport." It is audience minus participation. It moves slower (if at all) than oozing molasses. Here's how this works.

Linda and I love to go to movies. After a movie we ask each other the question, "So what did you think of that? Thumbs up, or thumbs down? Or, maybe, thumbs sideways?" Sometimes we disagree. "The story line was weak." "The acting was poor." "I fell asleep." "That movie deserves an Oscar." And so on. Obviously, we were not part of the story. When you are not part of the story you evaluate it. You become a movie critic. That's what audiences do; viz., they critique.

Church-as-institution, which can mean we're in "maintenance mode," births an audience that sits, observes, and evaluates. Criticism is the inevitable fruit of institutionalization. In the Institutional Church people critique the color of the sanctuary carpet. "Worship wars" feed on institutionalization-as-lack-of-Movement. People become an audience of onlookers. "Church" becomes entertainment. Onlookers look and criticize. This is not good.

It is the nature of revolutionaries to revolt. This is good. This is the revolutionary nature of Real Jesus stuff. When persons are engaged in the Movement energy is directed forward. Where forward movement increases criticism decreases. We revolt against the false gods that are worshiped on the punishing honor-shame hierarchies of the world system.

Critics in the church are not engaged in the Revolution. "Church" is a People Movement, a part of the Jesus Revolution, called out (ek-kaleo) to engage in the redemptive Cross-activity of Jesus. Viva la Revolucion!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Gossip and Slander as Crucifixion

Monroe County
Linda and I have counseled and ministered to hundreds of individuals, families, and marriages over a period of 40 years. We're far from perfect ourselves, and often thank God for the opportunity to be on other people's rescue teams. That God could use a wretch like me to help anyone amazes me!

We have been privileged to hear confessions of sins, failures, faults, struggles, shortcomings, wounds, and woundedness. We keep such things confidential. We never talk about them without permission to other people. And, we do not look down on struggling people. Why not? Because it would make our rescue efforts much harder! Instead of looking down on people we have to get down with them (= "mercy"). Why on earth would we gossip about and slander people we are trying to rescue?

"Gossip" is: non-value-added talk about others, behind their backs. Gossip is talking with others about someone else's failures and faults.

"Slander" is: demeaning the character of another person.

What you share with us… we never share with other people. Why not? Because it’s none of their business, and because it will harm the rescue effort. It is immoral, sinful, evil, satan-inspired stuff to gossip about people and slander people. So I am not going to do this. I am a greatly-rescued person on a rescue mission and I am not going to talk about the people God and I are trying to rescue. 

We are told in Scripture that to do this would endanger their lives. 

  • Leviticus 19:16 says: “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people. “‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD."
  • In Psalm 140:11 "slander" is compared to violence: "May slanderers not be established in the land; may disaster hunt down the violent." "Slander" is a violent, abusive act.
  • Someone who slanders and gossips obviously is not following Jesus, for Jesus says in Matthew 15:19: "For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." "Slander" is evil. It is satanic.
  • In Romans 1:29-30 gossip and slander are marks of God-hating: They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil.

Gossip and slander are antithetical to the heart-circumcising cross of Christ.
In ancient times bottom-caste criminals were put to death by crucifixion. Sometimes a note would be attached to the cross for people to read as they paparrazi-ed on the brutalized dead body. See, for example, the enemy of our souls is pouring on the shame in Mark 15:26: 
The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.
If that were me hanging on a cross for my sins and faults and failures it would take a scroll to list them all. 

Here hangs John Piippo…  who has sinned and failed in many ways… who has not been entirely truthful… who has not been perfectly pure…  who has had a hard time loving his enemies…  who at times was proud and arrogant…  and so on ad infinitum et absconditus... (I’ve got all these things and more written in my spiritual journal…)
To gossip and slander someone is to shame them before others. It is to crucify them before the world and watch them hang with their laundry list of real and rumored failures. This is the work of the Antichrist. The Real Christ came to save, not to crucify. The Real Christ was crucified for our rescue and salvation. We read the following in Colossians 2:13-14:
He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness,
which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
Christ was crucified so we, though deserving it, would not be. 
To gossip and slander is to crucify the people Jesus came to save.
Which includes you and I.