On your Mark
Nasty religious people
The teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said,
“He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out
demons.” (Mark 3:22, NIV)
I’ll never forget an incident that happened in a small
church my dad pastored when I was 10 years of age.
Two deacons accosted my father one evening during the prayer
time at the altar. One of them was big and the other was fat. The big deacon
put his fist on my dad’s chin and told him to resign because my dad, in their
eyes, wasn’t “spiritual.”
My dad had not embraced some of the crazy and nonbiblical
manifestations that a group wanted to bring into the church. Additionally, my
dad preached from notes — a cardinal indication in their eyes of his lack
That incident marked my first encounter with nasty religious
people. It would not be the last.
My father graciously stood his ground and did not resign
until those people left and the church was stabilized with people of godly
character. I admired the heroic way he responded — he did not act like
the devil in resisting the devil (see Jude 9).
Jesus also dealt with individuals who were outwardly
religious, but not inwardly godly. His conflict with them had been building. It
started when He forgave a paralytic of his sins (Mark 2:6,7). The religious
types didn’t like Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, or the
disciples of Jesus not fasting, or the disciples plucking and eating grain on
the Sabbath, or Jesus healing a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath (Mark
2:15 through 3:6).
Religious headquarters now got involved. A delegation walked
the nearly 100 miles from Jerusalem to accuse Jesus of being demon-possessed.
Their goal was to discredit Him. (You really have to be upset to walk that far
to make an accusation!)
They could not argue against the wisdom of His words or the
wonders of His works, so they attacked Him by alleging the source of His power
came from the prince of demons.
These were not theological liberals who debunked the unseen
world of the supernatural. No! These teachers of the Law were persons who spent
their life in the “Book.” But, they did not know its Author!
They had mastered theological study without knowing God.
Their relationship was with the words and interpretation of the text, but their
lives did not reflect the goodness and kindness of the living God.
The two deacons who nearly assaulted my dad, like the
teachers of the Law, had a disconnect between their theology and their actions.
Why would any person who presents himself as spiritual threaten to slug
someone? Why would harsh and unkind words be said — all in the name of
Our culture is filled with preachers’ kids, deacons’ kids
and former church members who abandoned the church — not because of the
gospel, but because of the poor example of nasty religious people. My heart
goes out to them because the representation they saw of the gospel is not the
Let us never become persons who are expert in doctrine but
devoid of the character of Christ. What good is served if we are full of
opinions and information but lacking in love and kindness?
A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, let me never be a person who causes others to
stumble and lose their way through my being a bad example. May my words and
actions always be consistent with my confession of faith in You.
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies
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