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Lead by example

THE Methodist Church of Lesotho is in the midst of a bitter wrangle.
In fact, the battle for the control of the denomination a fortnight ago degenerated into violence that left two senior parishioners seriously injured.
It is shameful that the protagonists in the dispute are church elders — including reverends — who are trusted by thousands of worshippers.
That, to say the least, is despicable.
For goodness sake the pulpit is the last place one would expect to host physical battles.
We need not remind the pastors at the centre of the dispute that in the Christian faith they are meant to be spiritual guides whose main role is to teach the rest of the church the teachings of Jesus.
And violence is certainly not one of the teachings.
Pastors, or whatever title they prefer, have a big responsibility.
And their responsibility is not to coerce followers to do the very things that the Bible — the basis of the Christian religion — teaches against.
Pity the followers who trust and think such ilk can offer them spiritual guidance and a protective blanket in times of distress.
Since medieval times the church has always fought over doctrinal, theological and political differences.
Thus today we have the church even split further over cultural differences and geographical lines.
Although that schism has in a big way stymied the growth of the Christian faith, the church remains a symbol of divine fulfillment, peace, love and all goodness in the world.
It is thus appalling when people who are supposed to be on the forefront of promoting peace and harmony foment divisions among parishioners.
It is disgraceful when men of the cloth seek to centre the faith on their persona rather than what Christianity espouses.
The religion is not about allegiance to bishops, priests, reverends, pastors or deacons.
When that happens that’s when we have the flock divided into factions.
That’s when parishioners hurl stones at each other in the name of church leaders.
That’s when we have church elders being bashed by hammers by fellow believers.
It’s a travesty of Christianity and an abdication of duty on the part of the clergymen.
Violence has never been the ultimate solution to disputes.
We believe there are peaceful ways of resolving whatever differences the leaders of the Methodist Church of Lesotho may have among themselves.
The pastors at that church are duty-bound by their Christian faith to eliminate cliques and factions within their parishes.
Self-interests must not dominate group interests.
We know debates and disagreements are inevitable even within the church.
But it’s the manner in which they are handled that is important.
The church leaders ought to behave christianly and stop forthwith putting the religion at large into disrepute.
They must know that power without responsibility is dangerous.
The world — beyond the religious realm — suffers today because of power-hungry people.
People are dying because of power battles.
And now the church — which is supposed to be a sanctuary of peace — is at the mercy of frocked men who seem oblivious of their divine responsibility.
We, as members of a society that is largely Christian, cannot silently watch the Devil run away with the gospel.
And we roundly condemn, once again, the senseless fight at the Methodist Church because we understand what the church means not only to Basotho but to millions the world over.
We can only agree with the old prophet Ezekiel who described such leaders as “false shepherds” who act against the flock of God.

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