Imagine you’re drowning. Your head has slipped beneath the surface. You see a beckoning hand burst through from above. Desperate, you remember Jesus’ offer to Peter and grab it. Anything for life.
But instead of being hoisted dripping into the vessel of Christ, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light, you’re swung aboard a Viking ship and set upon the oars against a gale. There, you have unrelenting and hostile demands laid upon you day and night, serving not the risen Lord but a human – one claiming to command in His name.
That’s how this feels right now.
Our local paper just dropped a long-researched expose on a respected ministry internship program in our valley. It revealed stories of poor conditions, abuse, manipulation, and inappropriate conversations, thankfully now in the process of being shut down.
I recognized many of the red flags of cult behavior as I slogged through the cringeworthy article. Mental manipulation tactics. Separation from the outside world. Sleep deprivation, a classic tool for disorienting and subjugating. Control of every facet of the students’ lives. Slander of detractors. There’s no shortage of outrage generators here.
Though it all grieves me, what really jumped out to me was that the ministry leader allegedly…
…“preys on the vulnerable” and offers people with histories of problems with drugs, poverty and abuse an “opportunity to turn your life around.” … “Do you come from a messed-up background? Did you have an eating disorder? We’re the perfect place for you.”
This. Seeing a sublime, awe-inspiring core truth of the faith – that the broken and repentant are God’s delight – twisted despicably against them.
Awful, because it’s true.
The broken and humble are God’s delight.
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench (Matt. 12:20).
Is this not the God who chose nobodies, stutterers, weaklings, cowards, murderers, and adulterers to be his friends and co-heirs? It is God’s modus operandi, his telltale signature upon our stories. The church is intended as a haven for them.
Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. (1 Cor. 1:27)
He does this to show his compassion…and his strength. It’s a shorter trip for the strong to become his servants, but for the weak and broken to be transformed…only God could do that. We all know it. And so he does it.
Hey, he uses me.
To see this pearl thrown to swine in the case of this ministry is appalling. Yet you see it in cults all the time – preying on people who haven’t yet learned how to stand on their own, haven’t yet learned to seek their joy and peace in God so that they aren’t hooked into the world for it and yanked around like evergreen branches in a gale. God is patient as we learn, but humans see only an opportunity.
To those damaged by this ministry, I’m praying for you, as are many. That you would be healed, but also that Satan’s theft of this truth – that God loves and pursues the broken – will not be completed. You are loved. The hand pierced by nails is still extended. And you will not land amiss.
I’m glad you tuned in today. If you feel this post to be of value, please feel free to share it on social media. Thanks a bunch!