From my experiences as a former IHOP intern & staff member and from other involvements with cult-like religious groups and churches, etc. one thing that I find to be a consistent thread is the message of never being or doing enough. There is a spiritual pinnacle you are always trying to reach, a spiritual high you are always trying to attain, a sense of closeness to God that you are always running after but it seems to elude you. You run on a constant emotional and spiritual treadmill but you never reach the destination.
A cult always wants MORE. It requires more of your time and resources to accomplish its goals and visions. You become the fuel that they use to run the machine. It’s your energy that they extract to feed their agenda. A cult makes constant demands…some are spoken directly and some are implied indirectly by using guilt and manipulation to influence you to give more and do more…and make you think it was YOUR idea–not theirs.
A cult will never say “Thank you, you’ve done enough. You can stop giving to us financially, we have all that we need. You are enough exactly as we are and we accept you without requiring you to redefine who you are to fit with us.”
In a cult, there is never enough of your:
giving (of yourself and resources)
hours of prayer
your talents and gifts
No boundaries are respected.
Personal free will and opinion is denied.
Questioning, independent thinking and logical reasoning are forbidden.
If you are content in who you are, they lose control. A cult cannot operate when its members are free thinking people with a free will to choose and make their own decisions. Co-dependency is required for control to continue.
But here is where the truth shatters the glass of deception and control:
You don’t have to do more to be loved more and you don’t have to be more to be accepted more.
While we were yet sinners, the Father sent our Messiah who gave His life as a ransom for us. Before we were anything by the world’s evaluation, we had purpose and value in the heart of the Father.
The goal of every believer and follower of God should be to live our lives from a place of complete shalom. Shalom in Hebrew doesn’t just mean peace. Hebrew words can often carry multiple meanings depending on the context in which they are used. Shalom can also be translated as tranquility, safety, well being, welfare, health, contentment, success, comfort, wholeness and integrity. It is a common Jewish greeting.
So when I speak of living life from a place of shalom rather than striving after something that a cult, church or religious group tells you that you have to work harder to achieve or attain, I’m talking about a life that is lived from a place of rest and wholeness. A place of having enough and being enough.
That doesn’t mean we won’t have trials or go through difficult times. It is about coming to a place of where our hearts are at rest and we experience total contentment in our heavenly Father. It requires ceasing from striving. It’s about having hearts and minds grounded in the truth that He loves us and delights in us….simply because we are His. We have inherent value because we were instilled with value when we were created. From the womb, we were given purpose and our purpose will never be realized and fulfilled in a cult or group that defines us and tells us who we are.
I invite you to leave the land of “never enough”
to let your heart cease from striving
and rest in the fact that you are loved
right this moment…at this very place and time in your life
even as you grow, mature and develop into the fullness of what God has created you for.
He has begun a good work in you
and since He is the author and finisher
of our trust, He will carry through to completion what he starts.
Grace and shalom to you!