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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


Religion Gone Bad

June 29, 2014

“Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” (Mark 14:48,49, NIV)

From time to time I talk with persons who have been wounded by the bad conduct of persons in spiritual leadership. Sometimes, the wound was inflicted by a pastor or minister, other times by a deacon or persons in positions of authority in the church.

Some of the wounded never again darken the door of a church.

What happened? The same spirit that motivated the religious leadership in Jerusalem to arrest Jesus is alive in those who lead with unkindness and authoritarian “my way or the highway” attitudes within the church.

I’ll never forget conducting a business meeting in a church where there was a confidence vote on the pastor. Under his leadership many new people had come to Christ. He had reached out to young people and they had found a welcome home in the church.

But the “old guard” was threatened. They perceived their power to control the church was slipping from their grasp. So they petitioned to have a business meeting and conduct a vote of confidence on the pastor. The pastor was several votes short of the two-thirds he needed to remain as pastor.

After the meeting adjourned, I noticed two groups. The group of older members, who engineered the vote, were in the back of the church congratulating one another. The young people were at the altar weeping and embracing the pastor. That “old guard” in the church was actually like the religious leadership who arrested Jesus. They used power to protect their position.

I have often wondered how many of the youth weeping at the altar that night became so disenchanted with the church they became lost to the family of God in their adult lives.

I wonder the same about the Christian family where a husband or wife asserts authority in such a domineering way that the spouse and kids walk on eggs lest they incur displeasure. That spouse is attempting to lead his or her family from the vantage point of power rather than from love.

The “old guard” — the chief priests, elders and scribes — got their way with Jesus. They knew they could not openly arrest Him. That’s why they did it at night — sending a group led by Judas with swords and clubs. They knew Jesus was not leading a rebellion. They recognized their position was being undermined by His attack on their religiosity and godlessness.

We know from secular accounts that temple authorities were extremely wealthy. Religion, for them, was a matter of profit. Thirty pieces of silver for the betrayer was a mere pittance for them to pay.

It’s easy to condemn those religious authorities for what they did to Jesus. But we must always put ourselves in the text of Scripture. How important is power to you or me? When you are criticized, do you easily take offense and attempt to get even? When your leadership is questioned, do you respond with the graciousness of Jesus or the belligerence of the temple establishment?

Followers of Jesus are willing to suffer rather than to impose suffering, to be reviled rather than to revile, to live with an open hand rather than a clenched fist.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, may I serve others with love, rather than attempting to manipulate or coerce them into doing what I want.

DR. GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

Previous Years

2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

Podcasts of On Your Mark are available in video and audio.
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