Monday, April 11, 2016

The Danger of a Hive Mind Church and Cookie Cutter Christians

In my 43 years I have had the opportunity to attend almost every kind of Christian denomination in the US.  It's been a privilege to witness how God moves among His people.  We are a wide and diverse Body.

Some of us love liturgy.  We find comfort in traditional church.  The prayers, hymns, sacraments and doctrine make us feel close to God.  

Some of us love unpredictable charismatic church.  We love wild and free worship and the presence of the prophetic. We find fulfillment when the Holy Spirit breaks into a service to make His presence known.  

Some of us love a mixture of these two types of church culture.  Some of us like a little liturgy with a sprinkle of unpredictability.  Some like a lot of unpredictability with a dash of liturgy.  God created each of us to have different personalities so it is natural that we have different likes and dislikes.  

In the same way, the very diverse Body of Christ also sees the scriptures through different lenses.  There are absolute truths that one must adhere to (such as the virgin birth and that Jesus was the Son of God, was crucified and rose again to pay for the sins of men)  in order to be a member of the Body of Christ.  But after those few absolutes are agreed upon… the Body of Christ shares some major shifts when it comes to interpretations.

God doesn't prefer one type of church culture over another.  He created His people to enjoy Him in different ways.  He even allows us to see His word through different lenses and is well able to bring correction when we step out of His intended meaning.

The problem with some churches today is that they believe their culture and doctrine is the only accepted way.  These churches and pastors have put themselves on a pedestal and look down on other churches with an air of Pharisaical pride.  They believe in their hearts that they have the correct "worship culture" and no one else does.  They believe they have correct doctrine and anyone who does not agree is rebellious and cannot really be walking with God. 

The leadership of such churches end up programing the minds of their people to fall in line with church dogma. In these churches, there is a “code” that is expected to be followed and if you do not follow it - you will be shunned and rejected.

The leadership of these kinds of churches operate out of a spirit of witchcraft because they manipulate people into being shaped into an image of their making.  If you express an opinion outside the accepted church culture you are rebuked and shamed to get back into line.

There is no room in churches like these to have free thought.  Leaders of these churches program their people to being part of a hive mind.  This means whatever the leader has held up as the cultural standard is expected to be followed.  They are like worker bees who serve the queen bee.  The hive mind church mindlessly conforms to whatever they are told.

Compliance with the rules is rewarded.
Noncompliance with the rules is punished.

This my friends is NOT how God works.  God did not create His people to all be shaped into cookie cutters. 

It is OK to interpret scripture a little differently than leadership.  There is no reason that someone should be shunned because they disagree with an interpretation outside of the absolutes.

Paul points this out in Romans 14:1-10:
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.

God did not take the same cookie cutter and use it to create each of us.  Not everyone has to see scripture in exactly the same way.  We can have different beliefs about how the culture of a church should be and we should not reject another person because their idea disagrees with ours.

This is what happened with Jesus and the Pharisees.  Jesus would not bow to their way of doing things.  The Pharisees thought they had worship ALL figured out.  But really they didn’t have a clue.  The Pharisees had a hive mind about religion.  They all mindlessly followed the rules and they rejected anyone who wouldn’t fit into their cookie cutter mold.

It was the hive mindedness of the Pharisees that crucified Christ.  The “worker bees” all did the bidding of Caiaphas the high priest.  They were furious that Jesus refused to interpret scriptures the way they did.  They were furious that He didn’t hold fast to the religious rules put forth by Caiaphas, “the queen bee.”

Be careful not to judge your brothers and sisters because they disagree with your doctrine or your church culture.  The people who worship differently than you do are still part of the Body of Christ.  The people who interpret scriptures a little differently than you are still part of the Body of Christ. 

If you belong to a hive mind – God wants to set you free.  He wants you to be exactly who He created you to be without having to comply with the commands of a “queen bee.” You are free to be you!  God loves your personality and wants you to flourish and thrive by being original – not part of a mindless cult.

The Body of Christ needs to humble itself and not assume we have it all figured out.  We don’t.  None of us do.  That is the reason we need each other.  It is through the diverse expression of the entire Body of Christ that we find His image.

God loves all of His children and their personalities.  He does not require anyone to conform to a predetermined mold.  He’s far more creative than that!  Let’s allow God to shape each person according to His plan and not pass judgment on disputable matters. 

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