Cults and Why They Occur
Over 900 people died in Jonestown, Guyana when their leader Jim Jones had them drink fruit punch with cyanide mixed in. Shoko Asahara got his followers to release saran gas in a Japanese subway system that killed 12 and injured thousands. More recently the Amish communities in general were horrified at the ruckus connected to a wayward Amish bishop Sam Mullet and his followers cutting the beards off of people whom they deemed a threat.
Cults are nothing new. In Acts 5 we read of two different radical leaders who drew a following and then perished. And a lot of the leaders start out sincere. When Jim Jones was leading a revival in Indianapolis no one could have guessed what his end would be. So what is it that turns seemingly good men into cult leaders? I have concluded that at the very root is a very simple principle.
Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28
““But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant.” Matthew 23:8-11
As soon as a leader or anyone in authority departs from this principle and starts to operate according to the way of the world in the form of a hierarchy the door is wide open for authority to turn into manipulation and it can happen faster than most people imagine. That’s because when people start working by the principles of the kingdom of darkness they literally sell themselves to the prince of darkness and will more or less automatically start working for him. He is a liar from the beginning so he will feed the leaders lies and darken their understanding in order to continually increase their deception.
There is only one safeguard to avoid being deceived and that is to know the truth. If we know our true authority we won’t need to control others in order to protect our position. If we live in loving relationship with our Creator and consequently with all those around us we will avoid the enemy’s traps because we know the heart of God for the people around us. When we walk in perfect love we are not going to give in to fear. Then and only then can we confidently say we are not part of a cult.