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Sunday, November 16, 2008

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord

There a has been alot of media stories lately about Jim Jones and the People's Temple tragedy that ended 30 years ago in a mass suicide and murder.

I really never knew what happened or who was involved. When you read the history and what people did and saw you see some scary parallels to some popular modern day influencers.

Jim Jones was a mixture of bad Scripture interpretation, preying on fears of trends in culture, and extremely influential speaking skills. Jim Jones was a great communicator. Those that followed him never questioned his authority. Questions meant disloyalty. From the testimony of those whose consciences forced them to walk away, they did it queitly, in guilt and fear.

The history lesson with the Jonestown tragedy is that of all the 'movements' or communities one could find to garner their allegiance, anything done in the name of God, especially if it speaks of Christianity (even in the broadest terms), should never go unchecked. It should be completely obvious to align itself with sensible and sound biblical doctrine. Not just in the name of Jesus, but with Jesus Christ as Lord. God is not kept himself a secret, so in faith like Christianity there should never be secrets, always open, always visible, always a verifiable accountability. We have all have heard it so many times, "there are no loner Christians". Agreed, because we are, and live, in community. The New Testament is pretty clear about the local and universal body of Christ being spiritually linked together. Well, likewise, three should be no such things as loner churches, either.
"but test everything; hold fast what is good." 1Thess 5:21

Anyways, one the reasons this story fascinates me is that a peaceful, multi-racial community and cohesiveness was forging.

"It spoke of hope. Of connection. All these races and cultures living and working together, very successfully for the most part."

It is so sad that something with so much potential ended so tragic and horrible... no wonder people are afraid to reach out to each other and trust God. A challenge only the love of Jesus can break through.

Here are some recent stories on the Jonestown tragedy...

A vision of hope, dashed by madness and death
Leader plotted with cyanide
30 years later

Your thoughts?



At 17 November, 2008 07:24, Anonymous Jim C said...

Much analysis of this and other situations similar has been made over the years, yet we have gained little knowledge of the "root" cause of the problem.
Whether it is Jim Jones, Jim Baker,
or some other Jim (maybe it's a Jim
thing), we have failed to see the real damage and WHO is at work here, and why it happens.

Satan has forever used corrupt men to cast dispersions on Christianity. Every time these men fail, and they will continue to do so, there are many people (probably millions) who are "on the bubble" with Chrisitanity because of the way their lives are going. They are "leaning" toward a
spiritual answer to their pain, and up pops one of these "Jim" guys
to PROVE that Christianity is fake and fraudulent. The "bubble" bursts, and these people are lost for eternity. The "problem" is the influence we allow men to have in our lives. Instead of having our own working knowledge of God's Word, we allow men like them to do our thinking for us. It is easier, simpler, and quicker, and besides, they are willing to do the thinking for us. And, because they are "men of God," and we are merely pawns in the scheme of things, bingo, many are had. Many more lose their souls than lose only their lives to these "charlatans."

The Bible's admonition to "test" assumes the knowledge and ability to do so, which most do not have, in spite of the same source admonishing us to, "study to show thyself a workman, needing not to be ashamed (code for not letting others think for you), rightly dividing the Word of Truth."

The solution for men, is to not become dependent on others for our understanding of God's Word, to study (work) the Word.

At 18 November, 2008 07:56, Blogger Carlotta said...

Follwoing any man (human) blindly is reckless. Especially when it comes to spiritual issues. SO often...MOST often it ends badly. Scripture tells us to TEST. TEST. TEST. When it comes to my spiritual walk, decisions, choices, feeding, etc...I start with HIS word. TEST. Even and especially your own pastor, people. It is ok. It is not disloyal. It is Biblical. It is wise. Look to GOD first and foremost. Make sure ALL else falls in line with HIS word, then proceed one step at a time daily.

At 18 November, 2008 08:32, Anonymous Jim C said...

Super advice Carlotta. Great blog Mark!

At 18 November, 2008 11:14, Blogger Mark said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 18 November, 2008 11:20, Blogger Mark said...

Thanks to you both for the insightful comments. Great stuff.

Jim you commented that there are many who may not even know what to test.. So true! Pastors and leaders have the awkward responsiblity of teaching their flock the truth so well that their flock can easily point out (and hopefully have a voice), when the pastor, teacher, or leader has gone astray.

It is very difficult for a leader or pastor to open themselves up to challenges. Frankly it is rare and the reasons for why so few do are many, but it should still be high on the character agenda. You can’t surround yourself with merely “yes” men and women.

It is a very difficult issue because we want to trust our leaders... we need to. We want to believe they are after only good in love of God and people. It is true that sometimes they might not even know they strayed from the truth. Deception only needs to be a slight shade from obvious to be quickly lethal. There are many self styled charlatans out there... but Jesus had nothing to do with celebrity.

When we studied the pastoral epistles in school, we went over 1Tim 4:16 so many times… It is not only what you teach, but how you live. “watch your LIFE and your DOCTRINE closely, so not to deceive yourself, … or others …” (my paraphrase from the NIV). It is the teaching and the choices we all make in all areas. Would it pass the test of those in the church, or those outside the church? Would it pass the Bibles’ standards for love, truth, humility, peace, self control, etc.? How do we spend our time. With who? For what? Is God a stepping stone in our ambitions? Who truly is getting the glory, who are we truly promoting? Does the flock really have a voice? It is a daily battle, literally step by step.

What is interesting in the Jonestown tragedy is that it seemed to escalate, slowly growing in severity and frequency. A little bit of inconsistency; weird, unexplainable stuff here and there ....

We must pray for the spiritual health of our leaders!

At 19 November, 2008 05:57, Anonymous Jim C said...

Mark, you are exactly correct. Leaders MUST constantly & correctly measure what they say & do against God's will. They MUST also shoulder the weight that comes with the mantel of leadership. We MUST never forget the "millstone" reference He made.


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