Many years ago, I was participating in a church committee that was strategizing how to welcome visitors and help them feel connected to our church. A variety of suggestions were proposed. One proposal was to have a church member assigned to the visitor when they arrived. They could sit with them and accompany them during the fellowship time after service. Finally, there could be a follow up telephone call to address any questions they may have. While it may have sounded inviting and helpful, the approach bothered several of us and I raised an objection. “If we do that, it may be overwhelming for some visitors. We may seem like a cult.”
Most of the committee nodded in agreement. I was speaking from experience. Prior to becoming a Christian, I was involved in a cult. It was led by a woman who claimed to be the reincarnation of an Indian mystic who died in 1886. She taught universalism, that all religions were paths to the same god. She liberally quoted from Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions to create her own religion. Like other cults, it was completely centered upon this woman who was unquestionably declared divine. Followers were coerced into supporting the group and those who disagreed were shamed and ostracized. It was only by the grace and mercy of God that He showed me the Truth and led me to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
Some cynics state that Christianity is simply another cult, replete with brainwashing, coercion, and centered around certain personalities. Certainly there are some fringe movements within Christianity that promote such beliefs, distorting and manipulating the Truth to support their nefarious schemes. However, God’s Truth will always prevail.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Revelation 3:20-22 (NASB)
True Christianity is not a cult. All of us must freely choose to confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Jesus stands at the door to our hearts and knocks. He does not force His way in. He asks, but does not coerce us, to abide in Him, so that we may grow and become more like Him. And if we stray, He seeks after us like a good shepherd searches for his lost sheep. Christians serve Jesus Christ from gratitude not obligation.
…Freely you received, freely give.
Matthew 10:8 (NASB)
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.