Posts Tagged ‘false accusations against Jesus’

Jesus was once accused of being a liar … being suicidal … being a half-breed … and being demon-possessed (twice).

And then a group of religious leaders picked up stones to kill Him.

All this occurs in the same chapter: John 8.

The Savior’s enemies made the following similar but incredible statements about Him:

“Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan [half-Jew, half-Gentile] and demon-possessed?”  (John 8:48)

“Now we know that you are demon-possessed!”  (John 8:52)

And then the leaders ask Jesus in verse 53, “Who do you think you are?”

When Jesus walked this earth, some religious leaders believed that He was evil … and yet Scripture says that Jesus was “without sin.”

Why bring this up?

Because I deal with staff members and church leaders who write to me and talk to me and have come to this conclusion:

Their pastor is evil.

Are there evil pastors?

There might be.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever met one.

Yes, some pastors commit evil deeds.

And yes, some pastors are dysfunctional … have personality disorders … suffer from depression … and have areas of incompetence.

But does that mean that their character is evil?

Let me share with you four quick truths about so-called evil pastors:

First, some pastors are difficult to figure out.

I’ve heard a few pastors preach sermons that made little sense to me.  Their messages were disorganized and didn’t flow.  They made points that I couldn’t grasp.  They seemed to revel in creative interpretations that I didn’t think were justified.

But that doesn’t mean they were evil … just incoherent at the time I heard them.

I’ve worked with a few board members who couldn’t understand the direction I wanted to take the church.  No matter how hard I labored, they couldn’t mentally envision the kind of church I had in mind.

But their lack of understanding didn’t make me evil.

However, in the case of several board members, when they couldn’t understand me, they labeled me “dangerous” and felt justified in harming my ministry.

Jesus could be hard to figure out, too … but did that make Him dangerous?

Please remember: Just because you don’t understand a pastor’s sermons or plans doesn’t make him evil.

Second, some pastors believe they must obey the Lord before they obey the board.

Jesus said in John 4:34: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

The night before He died, Jesus told His Father in John 17:4: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”

Jesus’ ministry agenda came from His Father, not from His disciples.  He was always conscious of what the Father wanted Him to do, while Jesus tended to ignore the agendas of His friends, followers, and foes.

Like most pastors, when I was ordained to the gospel ministry, I promised to preach “the whole counsel of God.”

For me, this meant that I was duty bound to preach from the entire Bible … never to avoid difficult topics … and to speak prophetically about the issues of our day.

In one church I served as pastor, an ex-board member – who had left the church a year before – decided to visit a Sunday service … and railed against me afterwards.

My sin?

He felt that I was “preaching at him” … so he immediately began a campaign to get rid of me as pastor.

He never considered that the Holy Spirit was trying to speak to him … and even warn him …  not to attack me.

Sometimes I’m shocked by how often a board member concludes, “Since the pastor stubbornly disagrees with me on this issue, I’m going to get him.”

Please remember: Just because your pastor disagrees with you doesn’t make him evil because in his mind, he’s simply obeying the Lord.

Third, some pastors are viewed suspiciously because they offended a leader’s friend(s).

Have you ever been a supervisor?

Imagine that you’re supervising an employee who has clearly been insubordinate to you.  So you call him into your office and warn him not to do it again.

He immediately goes to four of his friends in the company and says that you’ve been mistreating him … but you aren’t aware of what he’s saying.

I’ve had this precise scenario happen to me as a pastor … only the person I supervised was a staff member.

Even though church bylaws stated that the senior pastor was responsible for supervising ministry staff members … when a staff member didn’t like what I said to him or her, rather than submit to my authority … they would invariably find a board member and complain to him about me.

The biblical way for the board member to handle such a situation is to say to the staff member, “Let’s go talk to the pastor about this right now.”

But the board member usually wouldn’t do that.  Instead, he and the staff member would form an alliance together … both agreeing on one thing:

The senior pastor must be evil because he wounded the staff member.

But the real evil here is that the board member was seduced by the staff member into taking the staff member’s side without ever talking with the pastor.

In this scenario, it’s crucial that the board member circle back and speak with the senior pastor because (a) the staff member might be exaggerating the situation, or (b) the staff member might be lying as a way of retaliating against the pastor.

Please remember: just because a staff member tells someone that the pastor mistreated him doesn’t mean it’s so.

Finally, some pastors have become special targets of Satan.

Years ago, I saw a Christian film called Whitcomb’s War.  While the production values were rather crude, the film’s message still rings true.

Pastor Whitcomb arrives as the new pastor of a troubled church.  As he sets up his office upstairs, demons begin setting up their headquarters in the church basement.

Much of the time, the demons didn’t intend to attack the pastor directly … but to attack him through individuals in the church.

As a pastor, I’ve been attacked by people outside the church and inside the church.

When you’re attacked by people outside the church … like city planners or church neighbors … the congregation tends to unite together in purpose and in prayer.

But when you’re attacked by people inside the church … especially board and staff members … the congregation tends to follow the person they like/know best and division results.

And all the while, Satan laughs.

Jesus told His opponents in John 8:44:

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.  He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Even though Jesus hadn’t done anything wrong in God’s eyes, once His opponents labeled Him as being demonic … and thus evil … they felt justified in destroying Him.

And even when a pastor is innocent before God, if a few detractors label him as evil, they feel justified in using every weapon in their arsenal to run him out of their church.

Please remember: just because a pastor’s detractors call him evil does not provide justification for destroying him personally or professionally. 

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to get Christian churches to wake up to this important point:

The way Christian leaders treat each other in private will eventually affect the congregation in public.

What are your thoughts about what I’ve written?

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Have you ever had somebody recount a laundry list of your faults?

I’ve had this happen to me … and it’s devastating.

Political candidates from both parties use laundry lists against their opponents during election season.

Spouses pull out laundry lists when they’re frustrated with each other.

Employers compile laundry lists when they’re ready to let an employee go.

But most of the time, laundry lists aren’t just unjust … they’re downright evil.

Why do I say this?

This morning, I read Mark 15:2-4 in The Message:

Pilate asked him, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”  He answered, “If you say so.”  The high priests let loose a barrage of accusations. 

Pilate asked again, “Aren’t you going to answer anything?  That’s quite a list of accusations.”  Still, he said nothing.

When pastors are under attack, their opponents compile lists of their “offenses,” just like the Jewish leaders did with Jesus.

Let me make four observations about such lists:

First, laundry lists are usually desperate attempts to end a relationship.

During my second pastorate, a group of seniors did not like the changes that the board and I were making – especially concerning music.

Since they didn’t want to leave the church, they sat in a room and compiled a list of all my faults – including those of my wife and children, too.

Then they presented their list to two board members, as if to say, “Look at this list!  He needs to go!”

That’s what the high priests did to Jesus.

The list compilers don’t want to talk things out … or negotiate … or reconcile in any way.

They want the object of their scorn to be (a) defeated, (b) removed, or (c) executed.

There’s just one problem:

Second, laundry lists rarely contain any impeachable offenses.

Heresy is an impeachable offense for a pastor.  So is sexual immorality … and felonious behavior … and even slothfulness.

If someone’s opponents have evidence of an impeachable offense, they don’t need a laundry list.

They only need the laundry list when they don’t have an impeachable offense … which tells us something.

If a pastor preaches that Jesus isn’t God … or he’s caught in a motel with his pants down … who cares if he once became upset at a staff meeting?

When the seniors created their laundry list against me, one of their charges was that I didn’t make the wife of the church drummer lengthen her dresses … as if that was my role.

And all their “charges” were that trivial … which is why the board defended me and the seniors eventually left the church.

Third, laundry lists are simply unfair.

I know someone who once worked for a major Christian organization.  One day, his supervisor told him that he was doing 13 things wrong.

How could my friend possibly make changes in 13 areas at once?

He couldn’t … and was dismissed soon afterward.

That’s lazy … even angry … supervision.

Most people can’t emotionally handle having someone point out more than one offense at the same time … much less 13 … and that goes for children, husbands, and pastors.

(And students: remember when your teacher gave you back your term paper and it was full of red marks?)

The biblical principle is to bring up offenses as they arise.  Ephesians 4:26-27 says:

“In your anger do not sin”; Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

If I’m angry with you for something you did, but I hoard your offense rather than speak to you about it, whose fault is that?


And if you continue to commit offenses, but I never say or do anything about them, whose fault is that ?


And if I come to you one day … and bitterly hurl your offenses at you … and you don’t take it kindly … whose fault is that?


Christians would have far less conflict in their homes, workplaces, and churches if we’d just take Ephesians 4:26-27 to heart.

And when we don’t, guess who gains a foothold in our lives?


Finally, laundry lists tend to indict their creators.

In Mark’s account, Jesus wasn’t guilty of any wrongdoing, while His enemies sought to cover up their plotting by trumping up charges.

The list makers intended to throw the spotlight onto a person they despised, but instead, they were revealed as being hypercritical, petty, and vindictive.

Their “barrage of accusations” really stood as an implicit confession:

“We don’t like Jesus one bit.  We don’t like His popularity … or His love for sinners … or His novel interpretations of Scripture … or His refusal to obey us … or the authority He’s been acquiring.”

And on and on and on.

Their laundry list was really about one thing: they hated Jesus.

And most of the time, those who use such lists expose their own hatred.

A church leader once came to me with a laundry list of accusations.  When he was done, I asked him, “So what you’re saying is that you’ve hated me all this time?”

He coyly admitted as much.

Do you know how it feels to work alongside someone that hates you … especially in a church?

It’s absolutely devastating.

If he had just spoken with me when his feelings first started surfacing, maybe we could have worked things out.

But when he harbored anger … without my knowledge … it ate him alive … and he poured it all out on me.

Then he felt better … and I felt like harming myself.

That relationship ended, as do most relationships where one person nails the target of their wrath with a laundry list of their faults.

If you want to get along with your family and friends, deal with issues as they arise … or take your pain to God in prayer.

Because once you toss a “barrage of accusations” at someone, it won’t be long before somebody gets crucified.

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