The destructive influence of group dynamics

Poisener and Troublmaker – part 3

“Then a great star fell from the sky, burning like a torch. And it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water . … One third of the water turned bitter. Many people died as a result of the fact that the water had become undrinkable.” (Rev.8:10, 11)

Jesus wanted a free, unfeigned faith, not a belief in miracles. He wanted voluntary love and not slave-like fearful obedience. He wanted the free Christian man who lives under his own, self-imposed responsibility. He did not want other people to rule over his disciples in the name of God or Christ.

Jesus wanted the reign of God’s love, mercy and spirit. He had abhorred everything that created fear, terror, and trembling in front of a human power. He wanted to keep people’s conscience free from paternalism and manipulation. It should be a sacred place where the individual encounters God.

“We will not let you come to us again”

A Jesus, as he manifested himself in the Sermon on the Mount and his earthly life as a human, cannot tolerate any church or religious organisation! Too great is the contrast between the demands and the model of the Son of Man and the claims to power of the churches and their behaviour. The authentic Jesus is a constant admonition to them. He is extremely uncomfortable for them, because in his teachings he condemns them! He is dangerous for the claims to power because he frees his followers when they listen to him. The churches must fear his teaching because it undermines their power over people.

A Grand Inquisitor, who has Jesus in his power, is interpreted by F. Dostoyevsky in the novel The Brothers Karamazov and says to him:

“They will be astonished by us and take us for gods because we are at the top, ready to endure the freedom that they are afraid of and to rule over them – after all, it will be so terrible for them to be free. But we will say we obey you and rule in your name. But we will deceive you again, because we will not let you come to us again. In this deception, however, our suffering will also be found; because we will be forced to lie.

I tell you, man knows no more agonising worry than to find someone to whom he can give as quickly as possible the gift of freedom with which he, this unfortunate creature, is born. But only he gets the freedom of the people in his power, who calm their conscience.”

What Dostoyevsky outlined in the Grand Inquisitor’s speech is the way to erase Christ from the lives of church members. But why did this method have so great success?

“And my people love it so!” (Jer. 5:31)

Each group has the ability to develop its own dynamics. These dynamics are borne and reinforced by the members. It’s much easier to be influenced in a group than by being independent and alone. A person’s own objectivity is lost, when a person is under peer pressure. The influence of the group blinds people to this system which turns people to rulers.

Within the group there is uniformity, which hardly anyone dares to disturb, because the fear of being considered dissenters or outsiders forces people to assimilate. Assimilation makes everyone homogeneous. The biggest prison for the human mind is the fear of losing the recognition of the masses or being regarded as crooked.

In a group, somebody always takes the lead and sets the tone over time. That would not be too bad if it revolved around recognised, noble virtues. In this case, one could incite each other in the group to love and to do good deeds (Letter to the Hebrews 10:24). But it’s bad when power-hungry people take the lead. It’s terrible when the leadership surrenders to the spirit of evil. And if the leadership wants to rule, then it is not with the help of Jesus, but only with the help of the devil, because Jesus’ teaching cannot be used for this, since you have to introduce separate non-biblical lessons and declare them binding. Then a person is forced to lie.

In a community, the effect of the Holy Spirit can be prevented if there are people in it who see themselves as mediators (the Pope, “channel for understanding the Bible”, “governing body” or “faithful and wise slave”). These people imagine that they are always right. They represent their opinion as the only correct one. If necessary, they prevail with violence (threat of excommunication), lies and deception. Their authority seems to derive them from the Bible. They invent connections that do not exist in the Bible. I would like to refer here only to the invention of the “faithful and wise slave”: Jesus has narrated one of several parables, which are all meant to make clear Christian vigilance in a world dominated by Satan. Nothing else! But the WBTS (Watchtower-Bible-and Tract-Society) makes a prophecy out of that, claiming that Jesus had selected and authorised a group of people who would have the task of distributing “spiritual food.” But in his parables, Jesus did not authorise anyone to rule over his followers, as the WBTS does with their “Theocratic Law”.

The apostle Paul (also Peter and John) saw themselves and others only as colleagues of Christ, who were to work on the faith of their siblings. He refused to rule over people (2. Cor. 1:24; 1. Peter 5:1-3). With that the apostles followed the clear instructions of Jesus. Why does the WBTS not follow them?

The case of “Israel” in the experience of Jeremiah

The bad religious situation in Israel had an important cause:

“It’s the result of their thinking because they did not listen to my voice.” (Jer. 6:19)

The second mistake was an imaginary trust nurtured by false prophets. The Jews felt safe in spite of their God-hurting deeds because they said:

“This is the temple of Jehovah!” (Jer. 7:4)
“We have Jehovah’s Law!” (Jer. 8:8)

They wanted to express that everything was alright because the temple of God was with them. They were proud to “have” the law of God. Their leaders persuaded them to have the good pleasure of God; they “calmed” their conscience. But Jeremiah had to tell them that they were mistaken:

“Certainly, but your scholars completely distorted it.” (Jer. 8:8)
“They were led by their idols on dangerous paths.” (Jer. 18: 15b)

Jeremiah said clearly that false prophets in Israel were doing their evil business – and the people loved it that way! While reading these words, I thought of parallels to the WBTS. It too acts on a similar pattern! It, too, “completely distorted” the word of God. And “the people love it that way”! Do you still need to apologise for this? Everyone has to ask that for themselves. Everyone has to explore his or her conscience in this regard and hear what “the soft voice of God” tells him or her. About the false prophets God said:

“They are fooling you. Their visions come from their belly and not from Jehovah. To those who have rejected me, they say, ‘Jehovah has said, Salvation is for sure!’ “… Have these prophets, who spread lies and spend their fantasies as divination, in mind to forget my name among my people …?” (Jer. 23:16, 17,26, 27)

For the motives of the false prophets, the Bible gives a simple explanation: it is the greed for power and money! (2. Peter 2:3) And whoever falls for this greed turns out to be the “child of the devil”; he becomes Satan’s helper.

Let’s take another look at the people: God had to certify to them that there was no shame or obedience in fear of God, honesty, trust in God, conscience, and decency. The prophets of God have dealt with the whole problem in great detail. There is no excuse! And we realise that today cheaters always have a chance when man does not stick closely to his God and Father in heaven and does not recognise Jesus Christ as his king, shepherd, and brother. Those who do not appreciate their Christian freedom and need someone to tell them “where to go” will easily succumb to a “leader”. Those who do not question their conscience and do not listen to it easily become victims of propaganda. Those who do not want to make the Word of God their spiritual property, the light of their life, fall into the hands of the swindlers. Those who have not learned to bravely rise against the crowd will deny Jesus out of fear and cowardice.

What Jesus reserved

He has reserved the right to influence his disciples through his spirit. Everything he said to his apostles shortly before his death testifies to his concern for them. With great forcefulness he makes it clear to them what really matters: he washes their feet! The whole prayer that he spoke before his death speaks of his concern for his followers (John 17). Jesus wants to use his God-given power for the protection and blessing of his sheep. He wants to save them from evil and refers explicitly to the truth of the divine word, which is also able to protect. In all of his communications on this last evening, there is no reference to people who should act as mediators or “communication channels”.

“But the assistance that the Father will send in my name, the Holy Spirit, will teach you all the rest and remind you of everything that I have told you. (John 15:26)

“He will make my glory visible, for what he preaches he has received from me.” (John 16:14)

“Because I have told them what you have told me.” (John17:8)

Jesus Christ is the only channel through which God communicates! His power is so extensive that he can actually influence individual people – and wants to do so! Jesus can give insights that no one else and no organisation can give! He has reserved himself to lead his flock!

The heavenly helper

Before leaving, he announced a helper, the Holy Spirit (John 16). He announces no other helper! The Holy Spirit should guide each one of them and needs no “channel” through which to work. The wind “blows where it wishes” (John 3:7, 8) and causes a spiritual renewal of man, his rebirth. What should a human being do? Only the “Spirit of Truth” leads to a full understanding of the righteousness of God. How could sinful people be able to do that? The Holy Spirit is not a propaganda machine that blinds the heart and glues its eyes shut. The Holy Spirit is God’s power for good and justice, and it is not there to build structures of power as they have evolved in churches and organisations. Jesus’ speech in Matthew 23, which was to the spiritual leaders of the Jews, is a clear rejection of any organisation! His disciples should not regard a man as their leader:

“Also, do not be called leaders, for one is your leader, Christ.” (Mat. 23:10)

And Jesus Christ guides his disciples through the Holy Spirit. At any rate, that is the message that can be found in Acts.

Representatives?

Anyone who wants to push himself between Jesus and the people has the intention to make Jesus a minor matter or to delete him completely from the consciousness of the people. But Jesus does not need a human representative. He had all power in heaven and on earth:

“I have all power in heaven and on earth.” (Mat. 28:18)

And he forbade his followers to exercise power over others:

“You know how the rulers act as masters and the great ones abuse their power. It should not be that way with you. He who wants to be great with you shall be your servant, and whoever wants to be first with you should be your slave. ” (Mat. 20: 25-27)

Jesus used pastors and teachers, but they answer to him. Their job is to serve and help others. They should be inspired by sincere love for their siblings and never serve for the sake of recognition or money (1. Peter 5:1-4). They have to give an account. From the outset, this prevents the abuse of power and greed, as they are seen in churches and organisations. Jesus did not hand over his followers to the power of man, but to the rule of love, truth and justice. His disciples are so valuable that no man should rule over them, but only God through Jesus Christ.

I thought of the many people with whom I was once associated in the congregation. What will become of them? What else will they suffer? What storms do they have to go through? And if one day, as I hope, they realise what evil doings have been undertaken with them, what will they do? Will they have the courage, finally to say “No!” ? Will they choose the truth or lose the faith altogether? Or will they stay out of fear of being excommunicated and not listen to their conscience? Will they still lie to themselves, saying, “Where should we go? We have everything from the organisation. It has brought us “into the truth”. It takes care of us! Only it knows the way into the “New Order”. ” It is very probable to speak in this way, for it only corresponds to what the many have always thought and said; it corresponds to what the evil propaganda has hammered into them. But what did Jesus say? “Come to me! (Mat. 11:28) And that’s actually easy to follow when you call Jesus and hear his knock on the door of our heart (Rev. 3:20). If Christ should one day become the centre of their life, then the daylight will light up in their heart! And only then!

And that’s why I pray that God wants to have mercy on them. I pray that the enlightening light can enter their heart. At best, then, may it turn out, as Paul indicated, when he wrote that everyone’s work must be tested by fire: “And if it burns, it will have to bear the damage. He himself will be saved, but like someone being taken out of the fire.” (1 Cor. 3:15)

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