In March 1997, police found 39 dead members of the Heaven’s Gate cult. They had left their homes, friends, and families to follow the cult leader Marshall Applewhite. They all committed mass suicide, believing their bodies would hook up to a spaceship that was trailing pass the earth. The media found a young man who almost joined them. His roommate had joined, and a few months before D-Day, he received a video and later a phone call inviting him to join too. He almost did, but declined because his girlfriend got upset. We pity such misguided groups, yet we remember that Christ left His people with gifted leaders to prevent such outcomes. The Apostle Paul wrote, in Ephesians 4, that when God’s people listen to God’s faithful servants, “we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” Certainly, to avoid such tragedies like that of the Heaven’s Gate cult, we must make sure our faith is rooted in Jesus Christ, and we must identify faithful leaders and follow their teaching.
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