1 Peter 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Another Bishop is under public scrutiny. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has rightfully exposed dreadful neglect and error within faith institutions and leadership. The public bays now for justice, or at least a sense of it. Having read some of the testimony from the commission, I fully appreciate why.
This is a brutal season to be associated with the church. The church has gone from pillar to scourge. It is difficult to evaluate just how far confidence in the church has eroded. I know followers of Jesus feel the impact at work, school and even amongst friends. We feel to be public with our faith might mean becoming a scapegoat for this moral outrage. Believers are also heartbroken regarding what has occurred. How to respond? No one wants to be personally attacked, seen to be justifying the unjustifiable or to have the faith and the people they love slandered.
Amongst those who are aggrieved at the church, how can you respond? I suggest we agree with them. We are also distressed. We are horrified people have suffered so terribly at the hand of the church. We are angered because we know Jesus himself would have a fierce judgement on anyone not protecting the vulnerable (Matt 18:6). We know there must be change, and we work hard to achieve this. We are grieved too because we know the church is full of honest faith-filled people, giving sacrificially for the good others in some of the most challenging areas of society. Now, all this incredibly good work is diminished.
I think this shadow on the Church will be cast for at least ten more years, probably longer. The Church must rebuild trust by ensuring this never happens again. I am involved at a governance level in both Baptist Churches SA and Baptist Care SA, and we work very hard to protect vulnerable people. This is equally true for our own church. The encouragement from 1 Peter 2:12 is as vital as ever,