Blind Obedience to a Leader Named Do

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Blind Obedience to a Leader Named Do

God’s calls us to an intelligent faith, one that examines evidence and understands the costs, yet still has the courage to follow.

1. Humor: Man at breakfast table on Sabbath morning: “I don’t want to go to church.” Wife: Why? Church is boring, nobody’s friendly to me, it’s full of hypocrites. It’s a hectic drive to get there. I don’t like the potluck menu this week. It’s too much; I’m not going. Wife (who’s the boss of the house anyway): You have to go. Put on your necktie. Husband: Why? Wife: Because you’re the pastor, that’s why!
2. When a new Christian is baptized, who will they be following? “Followership” devoted to whom?
I. Five Levels of Loyalty
A. I Cor. 1:10-13: I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas [Peter]”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
1. Paul personally baptized very few people; tendency to identify with and bond with the spiritual mentor who baptizes you
B. Five things happen at a baptism, when we are buried to the old life, resurrected to new beginning, a fresh start:
1. You feel an emotional bond to the pastor
a. He makes suggestions, points out a verse, asks a favor: YES!
b. We want to avoid being “Pastor X devotees”; there IS a strand of loyalty
2. You are connected to THIS Adventist church; you are officially voted in
a. You attend here, cast votes here
b. Your name is on the books here
c. You hold church jobs here; you may serve on our board as a leader
3. You become a part of the worldwide Adventist fellowship, along with 14 million others. You are a Sabbath-celebrating, Second Coming-anticipating kind of Christian.
4. When people are baptized into Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they enter into the full fellowship of the worldwide Christian Church
a. This is one of the most thrilling, moving, awesome things a person can ever do
b. You join the Body of Christ
c. You are part of the church Jesus Himself started in 31 A.D.
d. Jesus to disciples in Matt. 16: “Who do people say I am?” Elijah, another prophet come back from the dead
e. Jesus to Peter: “Yes, but who do YOU say I am?”
f. For once Peter got it right:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
g. Jesus: “That’s right. And on that Rock, that statement, that core belief – Jesus being the Christ – I’m going to build My church.”
h. You join the same Church as Martin Luther and the Reformers
i. You move into the ranks of a body of believers which spans the globe and the past 20 centuries
j. You are an integral, vital, priceless part of the Bride of Christ, the single thing Jesus loves most in His universe
k. Jesus loves His Church; He died for His Church; He leads and supports His church.
l. There’s no wiser, more intelligent, more eternal choice a person can make than this: to be a member of the Christian faith.
5. The fifth and highest level of loyalty is: who is the Person you will follow? Who is the Man who will lead your life from now on?
II. Tragic Deception
A. The story of “Do”
1. He was a Bible study guide, a searcher of truth
2. His class enjoyed his leadership; they saw eye-to-eye with him; the class grew
a. Gail Maeder, 27, sat at his feet, then wrote to parents: “This is like a new life for me. It’s going great. I’m learning so much.”
b. “By the way, I’ve stopped smoking. The entire group has stopped. They don’t even drink coffee.”
c. Gail and others were now living, for the first time, a life of sexual purity
d. The entire study group was trying to be obedient to the Bible and keep the 7th commandment
3. Is this good news? Would we as parents like to get this letter from summer camp? “I’ve found a new life, a new experience: no smoking, drinking, premarital sex”?
4. 38 people accepted when Do said: “Come, follow me.”
a. They moved to Southern California with him
b. They did whatever he told them to do: he shaved his head; so did they. He left his family; they did as well.
c. He underwent surgery to remove all impure desires; several went down to Mexico and followed his example
5. March 22, 1997: Do mixed Phenobarbital with applesauce, washed it down with vodka, pulled a purple shroud up over himself, tied a plastic bag around his head and committed suicide.
a. All 38 cult disciples of Mr. Marshall Herff Applewhite followed suit
b. They had a last meal at Marie Callendar’s and then killed themselves
c. Why? Because they were disciples of Do; they were his “followers”
d. When Do said they could “shed their containers,” hitch a ride in the tail of the Hale-Bopp Comet, they put Do’s words higher than Jesus’ words
e. They lost their lives in Ranch Santa Fe, California
B. Newsweek cover story with religion writer Kenneth Woodward
1. He introduced grisly topic with a Bible verse: Matt. 19:28, 29
a. Jesus: “I give you My solemn word: in the new age when the Son of Man takes His seat upon a throne befitting His glory, you who have followed Me shall likewise take your places. . . . Everyone who has given up homes, brothers or sisters, father or mother, wife or children or property for My sake will . . . inherit life everlasting.”
b. Woodward: “The words are from Jesus, but they were also gospel to [Do].”
c. Extreme devotion is only good if it is extreme devotion to the right cause.
d. Piety given to the wrong person can be deadly.
e. Fierce loyalty to the wrong cause can break your heart.
2. Yvonne McCurdy-Hill, 29, just gave birth to twins. She left her family, two bassinets, in Cincinnati, so she could join Heaven’s Gate brainwashing party.
3. Rio DiAngelo was the survivor who got the Fed Ex package with the chilling suicide video, warning authorities: “You might find something really devastating inside that house.”
a. He abandoned his 11-year-old son: “Daddy has to go off and learn how to get into heaven.”
4. In 2006, Warren Jeffs said “Follow me” to his community, the RLDS (Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
a. On the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted fugitive list: polygamy, sexual abuse of children, banishment of innocent young men, the “Lost Boys,” so there are more “wives” for the elders.
b. Some leaders claiming as many as 15 teen brides, while telling devotees: “Follow me.”
III. Over-Confidence
A. Christian says with confidence: “Don’t worry, Pastor. I have my inner conscience, my instincts, the reliability of my ‘still, small voice.’
1. If something’s crazy or way-out or filled with error, I’ll know it.  I’ll spot it. I won’t go nuts.
2. Our inner voices are not a reliable guide
3. Some groups have departed from the safe road of Christianity; their web sites are beautiful! Well-organized, articulate, reasonable-sounding; they don’t set off warning bells
a. Heaven’s Gate cult was made up of web designers!
4. People with high IQs and college degrees have left the Adventist Church and gone out into completely secular lives – and do so with full conscious awareness
a. They did it while listening to “the little man inside”
5. After Heaven’s Gate tragedy, Woodward wrote: “Hale-Bopp may be a rare celestial show to enjoy, but this Great Comet is also a reminder of how dangerous the human imagination can be.”
a. Smartness, sanity, sensory sensitivity will not always protect us
6. Jesus gives a “Follow Me” invitation in Matt. 10:37, 38 that is starkly similar to something we might hear from a compound in Utah:
a. “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.”
b. In Luke 14, Jesus adopted a metaphor suggesting that our love for God and His kingdom should be so strong, so overpowering, that our strands of loyalty to our families would be like “hate” in contrast.
c. He doesn’t mean it when He says, “Hate your wife – and follow Me,” but He IS saying that our devotion to Him must be #1.
7. Reality: this statement is one Jesus would say, but also a “Do” or a David Koresh.
a. How can we know that obeying Jesus will lead to fulfillment and joy and unselfishness and eternal life, while these other followers were victims led to mass graves and stories on the 6:00 news?
b. What do we have for protection besides hindsight?
IV. Know the Evidence for Yourself
A. God warns us against cult thinking or mind control
1. Isaiah 1:18: Come, let us reason together. “The Message” paraphrase: Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out.
a. Let’s think clearly and explore these questions
b. Let’s ask God to make us wise as serpents and harmless as doves
c. C. S. Lewis encourages even “dim bulbs” in a church to hang in there and grow:  “[God] has room for people with very little sense, but He wants every one to use what sense they have. The proper motto is not ‘Be good, sweet maid, and let who can be clever,’ but ‘Be good, sweet maid, and don’t forget that this involves being as clever as you can.’” (Mere Christianity)
2. Paul gives the highest marks to Berean Christians, who didn’t fall over in a mental swoon: “Oh, Pastor Paul, you’re so brilliant, we’ll blindly accept any bible teachings you sucker us into.”
a. Acts 17;11: They received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
b. They got out their own Bibles and highlighter pens for themselves
c. They did not make Paul their Savior or cult hero
d. George Vandeman on It Is Written: “Keep your eyes wide open and your own Bible close by.”
V. Jesus is the Genuine Article
A. He says Himself in Acts 4:12: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
1. John 14:6: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
2. The Christian religion offers us our only hope
a. It has the only answer for our frustrations
b. It is the only way we can learn to forgive others and accept pardon for ourselves
c. Don’t take my word for it; don’t join the “Pastor X” Church
d. Read your own Bible and then follow the Messiah found in its pages if it rings true to you
VI. Beware of a Religion of “Jesus Plus”
A. Some offer “Jesus plus this teaching”; “Jesus plus that new interpretation”; “Jesus’ Word plus some other Bible”
1. Men like “Do” have come along and said:
a. Jesus isn’t enough. You need ME here too.
b. Your ultimate loyalty should be to me.
c. Jesus in the background is fine, but I’m the one you should be a disciple of.
d. Follow me to my new compound in the wilderness where CNN is kept away and where my words are the only ones you’ll hear.
2. That is the message of Jim Jones, cyanide Kool-Aid, and the fires of Waco.
VII. What About Doubt?
A. We wake up some days and our faith in Jesus as our only Savior isn’t very strong
1. Sometimes atheism looks pretty smart; evolution looks realistic
2. Sometimes a person hurts your feelings
3. Sometimes belonging to a church feels like a trial
4. Something in a sermon or a hard verse in your own studying seems out of touch with reality
a. You wonder if the whole thing is a hoax
b. Do we really want to follow this Man from Galilee who got successful fishermen to leave their families just by saying, “Follow Me”?
B. Even giants in the faith can lose their faith
1. Some big “names” have gone from following Jesus to following their own doubts
2. C. S. Lewis used to encourage other people to have faith and almost sneer at them if they didn’t.
a. “Don’t complain if there’s pain in your life. That’s God’s megaphone to rouse a slumbering world.”
b. Then he lost his own wife, Joy, to cancer.
c. Now he knew about pain and unanswered prayers
d. He prayed and almost heard God saying, “Go away; no one is home.”
e. In fact, God didn’t say anything; it felt like God was double-bolting doors and then hiding in a back room.  Go away!
3. Years later faith slowly crept back into his soul
a. Lewis writes about how our confidence level can be like a snowflake facing a blast furnace.
4. We must set our beliefs before us every day
a. Just as we set the table for supper each night
b. We must look at, examine, meditate on our belief system each day
c. Read a little bit every single day about the things of God’s kingdom
d. Expose yourself each day to something, some little piece of the Jesus puzzle: His words, life, teachings, miracles, death on the cross, His care and love for you
e. Lewis: “We must train the habit of faith.”
C. I choose to study and explore the great classic books of our faith
1. Read about people who have been through fires and trials and came through courageously on the other side.
a. I still “wobble” about some ideas, but I never wobble now about Jesus being my only hope
b. I don’t blow from east to west and back again, wondering if He is alive in heaven today and able to answer my prayers
c. I don’t ride a roller coaster of indecision wondering whether or not he’s the author of our salvation and the finisher of our faith.
D. I have a child/grandchild named XXX.
1. I want him/her to grow up and be strong in the things that matter
a. Flexible and forgiving and adaptable and open-minded in the human areas of life…
b. But quietly and happily settled into the truths and the “followership” that sees a person safely into their heavenly home.

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