Have you ever known a member of a cult?
I have not known a member of a cult but I have a friend who has a child who belongs to a group of “Christians” whose leaders have declared a no contact rule with parents.
This friend is not able to talk [on the phone or otherwise] with his son and daughter-in-law and he is barred from having contact with his grandchildren.
That’s all I know.
My friend is a Christian. In fact we have had many conversations about Jesus Christ. I read his blog from time to time and I have attended some of his classes. He is not a threatening man, unless you don’t want to encounter a person who knows Jesus. If you are agnostic or atheistic, you might consider him a threat.
Yet, someone has barred him from his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
Someone who is thinking for a group.
I am not going to use the c___ word for this group. However, in certain groups, leaders teach group members not to think for themselves. Not to trust their own minds. The focus is on conforming to the group and if the leader says I know what God has told me and you cannot know God’s messages [only I can] and God has told me that you need to stay away from your parents…
You stay away from your parents.
I have been in a church where strong-minded members overruled the pastor. There was disagreement and uncooperative behavior due to the fact that members thought they knew God’s will. The pastor knew nothing.
That did not seem right either, so what is the answer to this situation?
No pastor who believes in God wants to rule a bunch of robots who do exactly what the pastor says. No questions asked.
It is in the give and take of working the mission of the church that knowledge is passed from pastor to congregation and congregation to pastor.
Do pastors know it all?
Of course not.
Do strong-willed church members know it all?
Of course not.
Dr. Willard has written quite a few words about the role of the word of God in the church, the word that comes to the pastor and the word that comes to the layman.
The Word of God does come to both pastor and layman.
And the bottom line is: this is good.
Pastors need a word from God as they try to lead their own Christian lives, as they try to lead their church and as they try to discern God’s will.
But I need a word too, don’t you?
I have a life that needs direction, I have a soul that needs to be stirred, I have a need for Godly inspiration.
To be honest, we all do.
I think God can give me what I need.
Dr. Willard quotes St. Francis de Sales when he says “accept with a ready heart all the inspirations it shall please God to send to you. When they come, receive them as ambassadors sent by the King of Heaven, who desires to enter into a marriage contract with you.”
Then Dr. Willard says “no man or woman is an island.” We need each other, we need God. Pastors need church members and church members need pastors.
And we need a balance.
When a strong leader does all the thinking for a group, there is no balance.
When a group takes over and deposes a pastor, there is no balance, no leader of the group.
When both relationships are right we grow, we accomplish God’s work, we have a safe environment that does not demand things like staying away from parents and grandparents.
Dr. Willard says, “we find perfect safety” and in the words of G. Wade Robinson: “The full and perfect peace! Oh this transport all divine! In a love that cannot cease, I am His and He is mine.”