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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

 

The Root of Religious Persecution

Oct. 13, 2013

Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or the people may riot.” (Mark 14:1,2, NIV)

The attitude of the chief priests and the teachers of the law is repeated throughout history. When religious leaders are unable to win in the battle of ideas, they resort to force. Why is it that even today, in this 21st century, there are restrictive laws in multitudes of countries regarding conversion to Christ? In many places conversion results in execution, imprisonment, discrimination or marginalization.

It happens because the religious/political powers cannot win in the arena of persuasion. Their belief system is so weak they have to defend it with laws, with force, with violence.

The Gospels spend more time chronicling the events of Jesus on the Tuesday before His crucifixion than any other comparable day in His life. A major portion of that day was taken up with questions thrown at Him by His opponents. They lost in that engagement.

So, instead of giving in to Jesus — instead of recognizing the force and truth of His teaching and His miraculous authority as given by God — they do a very ungodly thing. They plot His death.

These are people who know the sacred Scriptures, maintain the temple establishment with all its sacrifices and rituals, run the academies that teach young people the faith. But their hearts are hard. They represent all that is wrong with religion that has gone away from God. The God of love and kindness is not in their hearts.

They were losing control because of Jesus. Would that they had surrendered to Him! It’s a lesson for us. Do we want our own way instead of His? His resurrection from the dead validates everything He did and said. It validates the whole of Scripture as well. Will you surrender to Him or try to obliterate Him from your life?

Clearly, Jesus was popular with the masses. It was Passover time, and Jerusalem thronged with pilgrims from all over the world, including in all likelihood a good number from Galilee. Jesus will always be popular with people unless the authority structures suppress the good news He brings and restrict or persecute those who bring that news.

In culture today, the “killing” of Jesus is not being done by the masses. Instead, the masses are being turned against Jesus by the media, the entertainment industry, and even the political and religious establishments.

The authority structures are all opposed to Jesus’ teaching that He is the one and only way to God, that the resurrection of Jesus is a reality and establishes Jesus’ exclusive claim to truth. Thus, we witness the concerted and orchestrated attempt to push Jesus’ followers out of the public square and into the four walls of their churches, or out of existence altogether.

However, the authority structures should have no fear. Jesus’ true followers do not riot. Like Jesus, they will take a punch rather than give one, turn a cheek rather than strike one, lay down their life rather than take one.

As Jesus walks into the final hours of His life, we should remember that the common people heard Him gladly. The masses were on His side. It was the establishment that turned against Him.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, I ever want to be included on the side of those who believe in You, who receive with joy Your words and deeds.

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

On Your Mark

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2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark


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