Friday, June 16, 2006

Tracking a Cult

Acts 28:22 - ...for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.
The headlines said it was a ritualistic style killing. The entire community was uneasy, perhaps there was a religious cult within their midst. The police had discovered members of this cult living all over the city and they were considered very dangerous. Among other cultic practices they showed exclusive obedience to their mysterious leader, who only a handful of followers had actually seen, and they refused to pledge any of their allegiance to anyone or anything but Him. They seemed to communicate with their leader in a somewhat telepathic way which they collectively and individually confirmed through a manual, similar to the enigma of WW II, which deciphered and authenticated all communications. It was extremely frustrating for the authorities to intercept and understand their messages because the manual seemed so clear and yet the police knew there must be more to it than just what was written. To encode the manual as to appear simple and almost childlike was ingenious, but the special police knew it was just a matter of time before their trained specialists would find the real meaning of some of the cryptic terms.
One of the reasons it was difficult to identify followers of this cult leader is that active membership seemed to vacillate so often. Just as the police were closing in on a family they had been observing as active in this cult, the household suddenly went inactive. The dilemma was always, "Were they still followers or not?". There was another problem for the task force, the leader seemed to be everywhere and yet nowhere. Many times they had some solid information that the leader would be at a particular meeting, but after securing the exits and bursting into the meeting they were never able to find this elusive figure. The more they attempted to kill any followers they had found, the more the number of followers increased.
The most shocking aspect of this group is their belief in human sacrifice. These followers even admitted that "We killed our leader". This was another of the disguised messages that didn't make sense considering the leader they referred to was killed several thousands of years ago. How could they have been there? They even went through a reenactment ceremony using juice, representing blood, and bread, representing flesh. How repulsive. It would be like people today carrying miniature electric chairs around their necks, and volunteering to be slightly "zapped" to recreate the event. These followers even ate and drank these representations of their leader's flesh and blood because their leader himself had commanded them to do so, often. The police were convinced that there was something subversive going on here but they were baffled as to what. They had examined the juice and bread in their lab and they had uncovered nothing. Strange...
Now these fanatics still claimed that their leader wasn't dead, he had risen after three days. The prosecutor's office presented much evidence to support their theory that no one has ever risen from the dead, and no one ever will. Of course they would have liked to have the body, but they would have to work with what they have. The entire movement had morphed into many different sects until it now was not only impossible to identify the original cult and its followers, but the sects had become much less unusual, exclusive, and obsessed with proselytizing, and even though they still claimed to believe their leader was alive, they had long since abandoned the archaic practice of gathering together to "talk" to Him. They continued to change into a nice group of citizens who were appreciated for contributing their religious perspective needed to enrich a well rounded community.
At the last meeting of the task force it was decided they could now disband. After all, most of them were now members of this so called cult, even though they were a little embarrassed by the history of their group. It seemed their early predecessors were somewhat "Neanderthal" in their approach. Rumors were surfacing, though, that some of the cult members were desiring to return to the early days. Turning back the clock on two thousand years of progress. Some people can be so intransigent. Remember, the manual is a mercurial document.

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