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Being a church leader is not always easy or fun. There are seasons you go through where people who are focused on themselves and their motives shake things up and you get caught in the middle of the muck and mire slinging. It’s not a comfortable place to be in. This all came back to me this morning when I was reading Mark 15.

Up to this point, the religious leaders were getting more and more upset with Jesus. He had been teaching truth and challenging their comfort zones in many of their ways and traditions. They noticed that people had been starting to take heed to his way of teaching which threatened their places of power and desires.

They designed a plan to undercut Jesus, arrest Him, accuse Him falsely, and send Him to Pilate to be investigated. Ths is where we pick up the story….

 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.” Mark 15 2-5

While they made accusations against Jesus (which were false as we see in the preceding chapter), Jesus remained quiet. Pilate took note and was amazed.

Now Pilate had a choice. He could gather himself together and address the problem with the people who were causing the problem or look for an easy way out. He looked for an easy way out.

“Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him.” Mark 15: 6-10

Note, he knew it was out of ENVY that the religious leaders were doing this to Jesus. He should have addressed it but wimped out. He hoped the crowd would take the pressure off his shoulders by making the decision that he was in place to make. I have seen this often growing up in democracy based churches. There is a challenge, the pastor refers to the church for a vote, and hopes they make the right decision so he can place it on them. “What can I say? The majority wants it.”

Well, here’s the problem with this mentality (besides the fact the leader is ignoring their responsibility). Antagonists work hard to get people on their side and through pity, confusion, and pretend empathy… they are very effective.

“But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.” Mark 15: 11

I have been in this position before. People I considered my best friends…. Christ followers….. people who tell you what a difference you have made in their lives and their families…… now trashing you, yelling at you, and gossiping about you around town. It’s confusing, hurtful and you just want to ask, “what in the world is going on here?” It makes no sense!

Pilate faces this in the next section….

““What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” Mark 15: 12-14

Notice how the crowd never answers the “Why?” question…. Chances are they really don’t know why. They have been worked up with half truths and victim mentality so instead of seeing the whole picture and walking in faithfulness, they charge ahead full of emotion.

Now, Pilate has had several chances to expose the truth, challenge the wrong, and shut down the false motives. Surely, he will stand up now as he knows the accusations are false, they are acting in envy, and there is no justification for the act they call for. Right?

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” Mark 15: 15

Church leaders, stand up and be ready to move for what is right and what is true. You may become unpopular, you may lose friends, and you may lose your job but never be the one who crucifies truth to avoid making others unhappy.

Random thoughts….

 

As follow up….here are some thoughts from Gene Edwards in the book “Preventing a Church Split”

Over the years I have gleaned a few points that seem to be common to church splits and raids. A raid is when a person comes into a church and leads a handful of people away to his cause. His style is very important. He is not rude, pushy or insistent. Polls show, that all who listen agree that this brother who raised these issues was doing it out of a pure heart. But the division still took place.

1.

The one who is leading the raid or split if stopped at any point before he leaves with his stolen sheep will declare that he is innocent and is falsely accused.

2.

Just about everyone will believe him; even those who do not follow. He is seen as innocent and mistreated by the church’s leadership and they look like the villain.

3.

The one leading the raid or split plays himself as simply too spiritual to criticize his persecutors, even while criticizing them. Either way, the church’s leaders, if they dare try to stop him, get hung out to dry.
4. His followers vow that they are in no way being influenced by him. I have never met a Christian who would admit that he was following a person in a raid or split. This statement help lead the people out: “We Christians should not have leaders. Only the Lord should lead us.”
5. After the split the ones departing will continue their friendships with Christians in the church which they split! This creates a great problem of leaders in the church that has been raided or split. The exception is when the membership is committed to leadership. Then they can have fellowship with Christians of other churches.
6. The leader of the split declares that God told him that, we are right and they are wrong, that the church he is splitting was a cult (or wrong doctrine) and not worthy to exist. (With God on your side, anything is ethical, is it not?)
7. The Church responds like they did in Church history. They will brand them as “heretics.” Both sides have no idea how deeply this division is going to hurt, discourage and destroy people. Nothing is going to stop some people from causing splits and raids. And never will they admit they are causing that split.

Whole article here…..

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