I have spent a decent amount of time searching my Truth, Christ. I learned more about the Word, the Bible, which I believe to be completely inspired by the Spirit and never irrelevant. Once I began to believe that a piece of Himself has been given for and to each of us, including me, I had another source of Life or Truth that came from within. I also have mentors who are authors I am extremely fond of and consider teachers in my walk.
This particular post is about a sad and lonely part of my Christian walk. You’ll see what I mean. I am proud to call myself a Christian and am not ashamed of the Church. At the same time I am accepting of others, no matter what religion they are or are not. My Lord has never said to hate others or hate things about them. He has said to love. Love makes the world go round, and nothing else. While I am in love with my Truth and the Church, I don’t know much about her. What I do know is that there are many denominations, but I only know what 2 of them stand for. So it seems that the church has become a bit disjointed as Brothers and Sisters in Christ split themselves. I love passion and it’s wonderful to read a passionate blog about the Lord. I have noticed a trend, though. I have scoured blogs, and websites for Christians, and articles about the Lord and found that only a few actually uphold Christ as what we are living for. Interestingly enough I have found less love and life. Instead, many people adopt a loaded language with special words which constrict, rather than expand understanding. And any information considered “outsider doctrine” is minimized or discouraged. If there were no fancy ‘in your face’ words to throw at people different from me or you, would the invisible walls religion places between us come down?
Out of the four super spiritual church-type places I have either belonged to or live at, have I been sent off with love twice. The other two times, it was like a divorce. Painful, strange, and even scolded months later for being happy to leave. I am never happy to leave people, but always happy to move forward. In one of these cases a specific, almost mind-controlling strange thing happened… One day I was laughing and talking with a young man about moving on to the next leg of the journey and he was excited for me, but sad to see me go. He mentioned throwing a good-bye party and hugged me tightly. It was wonderful. The next day when I saw this young man it was scary, as if he had been taken over like a pod person. He only acknowledged my after I specifically made him say hello to me. It was as if someone had told him negative things about me, that personal contact was to be avoided. It hurt because this person and me had been tight and he refused to talk to me. And then it happened with 2 more people in the same week.
What had changed about me for these people? Had someone said something to them? Did the Lord tell them to pretend to no longer know me? It stuck and it changed me. I realized then that many of the traits coming from this group were familiar, but I couldn’t place them.
When I became a Christian, I joined a Body of Christ. I don’t need to attend a specific group, I am there. Unfortunately this independent thought is attacked often. I belong to a bigger picture church. Christ, in my faith, is coming back for One Bride and I am a part of her no matter which group(s) I meet with while I wait.
After joining many of the Christian blogs and web pages I mentioned I noticed a trend, and the terms being used by Christians led me to The University of California at Berkeley’s website. It was a page with research done on the traits of cults. I was stunned to learn what I did because although I never joined a cult, I have been a witness to cult-like behavior. And that’s when I learned, as I read through the list, that independent thought is attacked constantly throughout Christianity. I am going to write about common things that happen in God-loving and God-fearing churches all over the world, but they are not biblical. And in order for me to find freedom I had to read these and realize that just because people have authority, even if it’s God-given, they may not always be right. Please read them with the heart of forgiveness. When I saw many of these I began sobbing, I couldn’t believe it. I had wondered for many weeks/months/and years why I had to be different. Why did I have to open my mouth and ask that stupid question or say that stupid comment? And while sometimes I was wrong in my Spirit, there were times that I was walking in the Spirit and tossed in the trash like I had never sacrificed everything to have a family in the Lord. In my new freedom I know I am a part of the family of Christ- and it’s not through chanting, or being forced to believe it, or even pretending to believe it so I don’t get in trouble (i.e. cold shoulder) … I actually am a valuable and loved member of the human species and the Body of Christ. Here are the main problems I see coming up in blogs and articles of people leaving their groups and feeling berated and beat down…
Anytime questioning, doubt, or dissent is discouraged or punished… run. Anytime mind-numbing techniques, like chanting or memorizing terms and saying them over and over again to suppress doubt is encouraged… run. It’s okay to talk about problems, concerns, and to bring the issue up if we see something contrary to Christ. If there is a controlling spirit within a room, group, or people, there will be no room for anything but Absolute-ism. Absolute-ism insists on total unquestioning obedience and submission to the group, both in action and thought. Notice I say on the group , and not on what your personal truth is. My obedience and submission is unto Christ. And it took time because I was untrusting of Him at first. Should I be led to devote myself to a group or church in the same manner, it should be of my own free will and not required. The nature of the Person I serve is patient and freedom. My love for Christ was not based on blind acceptance, I feel that He opened my eyes to see Him. It’s the same way for me with a group. If Christ doesn’t require blind acceptance (He wooed me), a group should not require blind acceptance either. If you see that you are being given permission to speak, participate, or that you are being told that no one is in charge, by the one in charge because who else could grant such permission?- tread lightly. Leaders of such groups are often self-appointed and not accountable. They scold members for actions they themselves are “allowed” to do. A natural elder of a church is one who serves, who is wise and usually has a great word for the church and gives it in a timely matter- whether it falls on deaf ears or not. An elder is not pushy, does not force his agenda, or give permission to anyone because he understands that permission is not his to give. No one should have all the answers. I have learned to avoid those who do, until a bigger picture is revealed. It’s simply safe.
Disobedience, even a minor disagreement may result in a shunning (according to the Univ. of Calif. Cult Characteristic list). There is something called information control that’s common today and it’s when ex-members of a church or a cult are avoided, especially if they’ve questioned the group has decided is unquestionable. When a matter or activity is questioned and the group immediately goes into damage control and creates confusion by changing the issue, there’s something up. There is nothing wrong with you for asking a question.
As you can see, I have had to work through some major healing and search for what, or rather Who I am living for. I know people who won’t go to “church” or who have left a church because they’ve been hurt. What I want to say is this… no system is perfect, no group is perfect, no model for church is perfect. They all serve a Perfect Truth and that’s why we don’t give up on church. Christ died for the church. I would never let a little mistake keep me from Him, again. We are free in His Kingdom. And the longer I remain in the fullness of Christ- meaning I understand that all the work has been done and I am fully and completely perfect and beautiful and whole in His eyes- the more I recognize what is not Truth. The confusing thing is, a real tried and true Body of Christ can make these mistakes and still be a church, with cult-like behavior. Take the good and discard the rest and realize that mass coercion or shunning is not your fault and it wasn’t my fault. The Body is made of people. Who make mistakes. I saw recently that Mormonism was just taken off of Billy Graham’s cult list of churches (HAHAHAHA! Billy Graham has a list of churches he thinks are cults!! That’s really funny). Anyway, I am really interested in learning more about Mormons. What would make Billy Graham (in all his authority) assault a person’s church with such a heavy label as a “cult”. I am interested in what open-minded revelation had to happen for him, or rather his staff, to take them off his sh*t list.
I will be looking into Mormonism and the relationship between them and Christians who aren’t Mormons. If you “were” one and now you “are” the other please send me a link to your blog or page. I would love to know more about you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I realize that no one wants to throw personal info onto a post and get hammered for it so if you do it privately you’ll be respected for all your beliefs. I just want to help bring together a disjointed Body through Christ and knowledge.