Many of us would have heard of a few sects, particularly famous ones that have ended badly like David Koresh’s Branch Davidian

Acts 28.17-31

Reference: v.22 But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect. (NIV Bible)

Explore: Last year a friend of mine preached a sermon on Sects. It was well researched and well presented. However, even if it was the worst sermon on earth people would still have listened. Not because my friend has an amazingly alluring voice but because every time he said the ‘sects’ it sounded exactly like ‘sex’. And when you are preaching to a younger congregation they pick up on that straight away.
Every now and again a sect will come into the media lime-light again. At the moment there is an Australian Big Brother (2008) contestant who says he grew up in a sect and escaped when he was 19. Many of us would have heard of a few sects, particularly famous ones that have ended badly like David Koresh’s Branch Davidian which ended as a mass grave after a 51 day FBI siege. However there are many sects around that are not so obviously evil. It is the subtle abusive behaviour that lulls people into a false sense of security and a total reliance on one person that we still need to be cautious of.
Interestingly enough, the leaders of the Jews refer to followers of Jesus as a sect. When you look at it there was one person who believed he was the Messiah and called people to follow him. The difference between Jesus was that instead of drawing people closer to himself and creating a tight knit community that was all about Him, Jesus encouraged people to stay in their own communities and preach the good news to Love God and Love Others in their own homes. Whether you believe Jesus was the Messiah or not, if we all lived in the way He instructed and modeled then this world would be a much happier place.

Application: While our churches can be an amazing place of support and encouragement we need to be exploring the Scriptures and constantly seeking wisdom from God to discern our own path. There will be many people or trends that go through religious circles that may push the boundaries of Godly behaviour. While Australians may have a fairly highly tuned detector of what is over the top, when people are hurt and in need they become very vulnerable. We must discern for ourselves a way to establish a balance between trusting in God and using the wisdom He has given us to discern appropriate behaviour.

Prayer: Lord, you created community and yet Your ideas held peace and love, not abusive and control. May we strive to create Godly communities in our homes, schools and work places. Amen.

This article was written by Linda Bailey

Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.