It's not easy to be a believer in the American church. While there is comfort abundant, which in itself runs contrary to the scheme of the cross, many find ourselves having been arrested and locked behind invisible bars. The charges? We think differently than the Sheriff. What's worse is we don't realize we've been drugged, anesthetized, by the strong powers that be and are being held captive. They tell us we are simply being discipled. Yet, our minds have been jailed.
Once sentenced to community confinement we are free to move about the terrain we choose with the friends we develop, but we find ourselves gradually incapable of thinking. Thus, we are told what to think. The process is so smooth that eventually it's just easier to be told what to believe. Too, the Sheriff of Pharisee County has strong-armed deputies. While they never physically assault for they are far too clever, they do rule by intimidation. Some of his deputies serve as elders, some as preachers, and some own printing presses. The prisoners must play by the bullies' religious rules. Don't ask questions and don't rock the boat is the goal in camp. Keep smiling. Contribute the best you can. Volunteerism gets points. But one must think only in line with the Sheriff and his deputies.
The result is a heavy count of believers becomes dwarfed in their ability to think for themselves. This is proof the Sheriff's scheme is working. Inmates will be under his thumb and much easier to control. They are groomed to depend on the deputies' commentaries as to what they are to believe. How hard they try to obey for this is a key word among the confined. A list of what and who to shun is distributed. Though not posted anywhere, there is a list. Versions of the Bible, workshops, names of congregations and preachers, and methods which are to be avoided are passed throughout the underground camp of the Sheriff. Inmates can't teach their neighbor how to be saved, but they can recite "the list".
When a person goes to prison the controlled environment forces everything to be thought for him. Inmates slowly become unable to decide....literally. Decisions are made for them. Today, when a prisoner is released after significant confinement, one of his greatest struggles is trying to make a decision because he hasn't done such a thing in so long. When Jim Bakker was released from prison he could not determine which rental car to choose and asked someone to do it for him. So it is for too many in the church. We are given clear boundaries of the Sheriff's preferential right and wrong. Over the decades the people work to obey and serve, but no longer think for themselves. It doesn't even occur to them to think they can't think.
It's one thing to know a few of the scriptures. It's quite another to be able to think on our own as to what we believe they teach. Controlled religion was rampant in Jesus' day and it is in ours. The church is not a cult. It is a marvel. Let's do more than restore a hand full of verses. Let's think so as to restore its glorious and thrilling heart that we may rejoice. Maybe then we will begin to keep more of our children.