Day 248

Toxic Faith And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is…

Day 248

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Toxic Faith

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:12 – 13

Jim Jones, pastor and founder of Peoples Temple shocked the world. On November 18, 1978, 909 people, some willingly, some at gunpoint, ingested a poison-laced punch. One third of the dead were children. A horrid day in history. But it was not the first-time faith had been corrupted to produce unrighteous consequences.

Sadly, even the God’s Temple suffered the infection of men intent on exploitation. These men were using faith to manipulate and extort people of faith for their own benefit. Jesus did not hesitate to eradicate their presence.

After being in an abusive marriage to a preacher for several years, a book was placed in my hands that helped me understand the hidden source of power behind the cruel words and actions. The name of the book was, “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderan. My husband, a preacher, was using God to destroy me. The book explored the fact that many churches and individuals were in the grips of a spiritually abusive person. Anger, control and oppression are the main tools, but all in the guile of “bringing those under them into submission of God.”

I encounter toxic faith robbing people of their dignity more than their gold. Pastors, elders, “godly” men and women who use God for their own purposes. The desire for power and the satisfaction of being the final voice seem to be the driving forces. They complain that those “under” them are uncooperative, while their behavior is the very thing causing the timidity and lack of initiative.

Our challenge, then, is to assess our own lives and churches. Standing against bullies is never easy, even for adults. We need to see that every individual, family member, employee in our care have the respect and voice that every human being deserves. We need to nurture an environment that encourages freedom of worship, of speech of service. Love is not just a feeling, but a proactive intent.
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