It's human nature to generalise or make sweeping statements, and I must confess that I've been as guilty as the next person in this area!
You all know the drill - if, for instance, you happen to be in the Pofadder branch of Standard Bank, on a particular day at a particular time, and Teller No. 3 is having one of those "days from hell" and gives you somewhat less than exemplary service, you end up telling all and sundry that Standard Bank - yes, the ENTIRE institution - totally sucks! And I've been guilty of doing the same with the Church, which is, after all, a Godly institution comprising not-so-Godly human beings.
For some time now we have been challenged us to be more honest and specific in our "naming and shaming". When A's halo slips a bit, it's not the entire Church that's at fault - it's A!
Now don't get me wrong, here - I'm by no means saying that we have a licence to go and diss all and sundry. We are commanded to love one another. Our Christian responsibility to bring about restoration remains. But by using sweeping generalisations such as "the Church" does / doesn't do XYZ maligns the entire institution for the sins of the few. And when we have the courage to identify and confront the actions of A, we can come to realise that B, C, and all the other letters of the alphabet are actually doing their best to live lives that are worthy of the name "Christian".
Let me give you an example. I find it both unfortunate and unfair when, as people meet me for the first time and establish that I am a minister, I sometimes hear a wisecrack along the lines of "it's a good thing you're not a Catholic priest, or I'd need to watch my son" (a reference to the molestation scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church in recent years, whereby a handful of priests have been accused of abusing young children). This is most unwarranted.
The fact of the matter is that there is probably not a single church where such goings-on have not happened - or mosque, school, youth club, etc. When I re-joined the Scouts as an assistant Troop Scouter last year, they did not ask me for two character references because they have nothing better to do or they like administration. Something must have happened in the past to warrant such measures. But provided that the institution deals decisively with specific people who have gone off the rails in whatever manner, no institution deserves to be maligned for the sinful actions of a tiny minority.
So from this day forth, I'm turning over a new leaf - and will henceforth be more appreciative of the countless good people that are doing their best in our instutions.
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