“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your children.” (Hosea chapter 4, verse 6).
Let me set the scene.
A call is sent out from a leader to his followers, asking – no – instructing them to come to the ark because a flood is coming and whoever is not inside the ark will be destroyed. They are told to leave their cell phones at home wrapped in aluminum foil. His followers call him father and he refers to them as his children. Did I mention the organization that he’s leading? He’s the “pastor” of a “church”.
Oh, another important fact – he has managed to convince his followers that he is God, complete with the ability to resurrect them from the dead. And it was with this knowledge that a certain lady essentially consented to her throat being slashed, because of course, she was anticipating being resurrected. No to be callous but I believe she’s still on ice right now.
I didn’t make this up, nor is this the plot of some poorly written sci-fi or horror movie. This actually happened in Montego Bay, Jamaica a couple weeks ago. And this was just a glimpse of a long and bizarre series of events that left the entire country shaking our collective heads.
More questions than answers
This has certainly left us with more questions than answers. Did they not have bibles? Did they have no idea of who God is as told to us in His written word? What about the many red flags that should have been raised when these followers saw that a lot of the teachings coming from their leader did not line up with Scripture? But the number one question that I’ve been asking is “How?” How could people have allowed themselves to be so easily deceived by this blatantly false doctrine?
There are so many takeaways from that series of events but there are two major issues that I want to examine.
Placing trust in an entity that has not earned it
Knowing God through others
Trusting in man
There was a time when people would tell me that I have trust issues and I would readily agree. After all, in my experience mankind have proven themselves to be untrustworthy, unreliable, dishonest and downright evil. Therefore, it was not the easiest thing for me to take someone at their word. It took me a couple years to realize that nowhere in the bible did I ever see any mention of trusting in man.
According to Romans chapter 13 verse 8 “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” I am required to love you come what may, not trust you. Now don’t misunderstand me, there is some level of trust that we place in our fellow men. You hope and trust that the chef at the restaurant didn’t poison your dinner in the same way that you trust that the captain in charge of your flight is actually a trained pilot who has the competence to get you to your destination safely.
But if you see something moving on your plate when you ordered roast chicken, you will be alarmed irrespective of how many stars the restaurant has and how highly recommended the chef came. Well, I hope you would be alarmed.
It should be no different when it comes to people professing to be ministers of the gospel and servants of God. As a matter of fact, it is most important to not merely be aware of red flags but to act on them when it comes to spiritual things.
Take your leaders off that pedestal
The only one who belongs on the throne of your heart is God. No exceptions.It is ok to respect our leaders, it is ok to admire their service, their zeal or whatever it is you see in them that reflects the love and grace of our Lord and Saviour. But it is never ok to think that they are any more or less human than you are. It is never ok to think that they are without fault, without the same limitations you have. It is downright dangerous to think that these are perfect people who can do no wrong.
The minute you begin to revere these mortal men to the point where you never question their words or actions, you have effectively equated them to God, making them an idol and this is absolutely dangerous territory. The second you realize that your church leaders are ordinary people chosen by an extraordinary God to be His representatives here on earth it will help you to look at them with the right perspective. It is even more important that you are able to discern who actually belongs to the Church.
More next time
Natasha Young is an accountant and mother of one from the land of wood and water (Jamaica) in the West Indies who feels like she has missed her true calling which was to have become a teacher, or writer/director (or all of the above!). She is the only person she knows who works with numbers everyday but had English as a favourite subject in school. The most used app on her phone is Kindle so you know what that means. She is a lover of music and can oftentimes be heard belting on the top of her voice even though singing is not a talent of hers. But ultimately, she is just a sinner saved by grace who believes we all have a responsibility to use our gifts for the growth of God’s people and His glory.