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A common criticism of ourselves, and something which is used to describe any group that is considered a cult, is that we (a) think we are the only people who are serving God; and that we (b) think everyone else is wrong. We strongly disagree with this, in particular with regard to our teaching about sincerity. We believe that sincerity is what makes a person right in God's eyes, and it doesn't matter what group you are in (or not in) when it comes to being sincere. In keeping with this teaching, I have habitually tried to apply the same criticisms to ourselves that I apply to others. And I hope that I will be doing it in this article as well.

However, there is something that is, in my opinion, different about us which is fundamental to our faith, and I believe that it is significant in drawing the line between being spiritually right and spiritually wrong. That is what I want to describe in this article.

Someone recently argued that there is no fundamental difference between us and a number of other idealistic groups with similar beliefs, e.g. Freegans or Catholic Workers. I argued that there IS a fundamental difference, but had a very difficult time making myself heard, because of the knee-jerk assumption that I was just taking a traditional "cult" approach, an ethno-centric unwillingness to see the good in others or the evil in ourselves. I don't think that was a fair assessment.

First, I want to clarify that when I say "we" or "us", I am, in some ways referring to the JCs corporately; but in a strict spiritual sense, I am talking only about those members and those time in the lives of those members when we are genuinely, and sincerely seeking more truth, love, and faith. In addition, "we" and "us" refer to others all over the world who are doing the same thing. I believe that there is a spiritual unity between all such people. Our (Jesus Christian) teaching that there are sincere people (and insincere people) in any organisation is ultimately just a doctrine. It does not guarantee that we ourselves are all going to be sincere, nor does it guarantee that we are always going to recognise and respect sincerity in others; but the teaching in itself is an important IDEAL to help keep us on the right track.

In terms of specifics, there are other teachings besides the sincerity teaching which have flowed from the teachings of Jesus in the Bible, which also distinguish us and which, I believe, bring unprecedented opposition to ourselves which other "nice" groups do not suffer from. People like freegans and the Catholic Workers may not appear to be mainstream, but they do enjoy an acceptance that we are not blessed with. They are seen (and presumably see themselves) as part of a second (left-wing) mainstream that requires them to conform with much that the rest of the left-wing believes, although each group has a certain amount of freedom to alter certain aspects of that stream (e.g. opposing abortion, as Catholic Workers do, while the rest of the Left supports it). This mainstream-ism is, in my opinion, significant spiritually.

The general public looks on and sees a lot of very similar groups (whether on the Left or on the Right), and they recognise that each of these groups has slight differences: Even within the so-called Christian spectrum, they observe that some speak in tongues; some have silent worship; some recite a mass every week; some go to protests; some have various interpretations of Bible prophecy; some think war is okay; some vote for Obama; some vote for McCain. But essentially (unless they come under the classification of "cults") each of these groups is seen to be part of a great big wonderful world that is struggling to get better day by day, as they each seek to overcome their differences and to work together in harmony.

It sounds nice, doesn't it? But somehow, we fail to fit into all of this. Why?

I believe that it is our devotion to Jesus Christ as the Son of God and as the only one who has the words of eternal life, that makes us radically (i.e. fundamentally) different from all of the others, and which also leads them all (from Left and Right both) to hate us with a passion. I realise that there are a lot of churches who would claim that they too are trying to follow Jesus. And I realise that there are flaws within our own group and within each individual within our group. But I am saying that fundamentally the JC movement has grown out of an experiment to take the teachings of Jesus and to allow them to shape everything that we do... every teaching that we espouse... and THAT is what makes us dangerously "different".

Something anyone will soon observe from the teachings of Jesus (on virtually every page of the gospels) is that he is deeply concerned about painting an image of another world... a world called "the kingdom of heaven". It is our faith in this invisible world that distinguishes us categorically from that great big happy family being sought after by all the other various groups that make up the human race. We are "not of this world", because we seek a new world "whose builder and Maker is God".

All of what I am saying about us seeking a different world to what the others are seeking, and about it being the source of tensions between us and other groups might be just a delusion, a pipe dream about our own uniqueness; but I think there is powerful evidence to contradict that, and I'll explain that now.

One of the mysterious teachings of the kingdom of heaven is that it is NOT the Jesus Christians, and it is not you or me. It is an invisible kingdom. So we are NOT talking about "us" (i.e. the JCs) versus "them"... although we ARE talking about the kingdom we are at least outwardly committed to in contrast to the kingdom that is put forward by so many others out there in the world... what we call the system. They see in their minds all the various organisations of the world and they long for a day (and a leader) that will bring them all together into one big happy family... a world living in peace and harmony. Whereas "our" leader (meaning Jesus... the one who has called us to build his invisible kingdom of truth and love) says that this other image of the world is false and misleading, that it will ultimately lead to the Antichrist, and to a time of unprecedented suffering. He acknowledges that it is outwardly respectable, but teaches that fundamental changes are needed in the hearts of each individual to begin to even see the totally new world that he represents. He called it being "born again".

Remember that the people included in the word "our" above are not just Jesus Christians (and probably they do not include all Jesus Christians either, which is the point of this article), nevertheless, they are all united... deeply and spiritually. The more we learn of each other's existence, the more we are drawn together. We want to open up to and to learn from each other.

Now, compare that to, say, our relationship with the Quakers (though it could be Freegans, Catholic Workers, or any other group as well). In each case, we will find areas of agreement, and we will try to focus on those areas of agreement, in an effort to inspire others with the truth that we have learned and in an effort to learn from things that they have learned in their spiritual journey. What I liked best about the Quakers was that I felt they could teach me so much more about how to control my quick temper. I was not there to take over, to undermine, to rock the boat, or whatever. For nine years, Cherry and I met faithfully and peacefully with them. But throughout those nine years we also became more and more aware that we were walking on eggs with regard to the overall vision of the kingdom of heaven. There were more and more things that we could not talk about, and there were more and more things that the Quakers were looking for to find fault in ourselves.

We are now experiencing something similar with Freegans. They do not have the history that the Quakers had, and so it would seem that we could blend in more easily with them right from the start. But is this happening? Absolutely not. The forces of the "system" have already spotted us and are determined to cut us off. Why? Because they have a picture of what it is that they are building, and we are not a part of it. We represent an invisible world that is somehow opposed to the system that they imagine (in their nicest moments) all coming together, possibly with them playing a significant role in making it all happen.

And what about the Catholic Workers? Surely there are individuals within the Catholic Workers who are sincerely seeking God, truth, love, Jesus, more than the organisation. And there are. But it's still a bit of a mystery as to where they are. Either we are going to grow closer and closer to them as we discover one another, or we are going to experience with the Catholic Workers the same thing that we have experienced elsewhere (including with the Catholic Workers in Brisbane), which is an invisible barrier going up between us and them, and them distancing themselves more and more from us.

Someone has argued that the Catholic Workers in L.A. are different, and people have done this with many other groups over the years. But, surely if this is the case, then we should all be rejoicing about the walls that are being broken down as we are introduced to each other. But so far, I don't think that person has introduced any of them to any of us. And if they are being told about us, why haven't they contacted us?

It makes me think of a reporter for "On Being" magazine in Australia years ago, who said he loved what we stood for and he said that people in his church were very much like ourselves. He would say this over and over each time we met him, for a period that spread over many months. One day I asked the rather obvious question, "So why haven't you ever invited us to come to your church, maybe even to speak with them and to share our experiences?" That is when he admitted that he had not even mentioned to any of them that we existed, because they "weren't ready" for us yet! (And they never did become "ready" at any time after that.) The unity that he was talking about was all in his own imagination.

Yes, there is an important fundamental difference between what we (the sincere followers of Jesus and the Truth) are building and what the rest of them are building. We may, for a time, be able to work alongside them, but only by pretending to be building their system. When they discover that we have a vision of a bigger kingdom, one that is only going to be established AFTER the counterfeit comes together, and only after our Leader miraculously returns from the heavens to wipe out the counterfeit, then they turn on us, and they do so with a vengeance.

We have, in fact, become worse, in the words of one of their leaders, "than mass murderers and serial rapists". The lovely, sweet, respectable, peace-loving Quakers even joined hands with people like Brian in their efforts to wipe us out. It's not some kind of a vague and unfair link that we talk about between people like Brian and Sheila (who did all that she could to get Reinhard killed and now pretends that it never happened). The links are there and they are visible. Sometimes there will be one or two intermediate links, but none of them are very far removed from Brian and Sheila. (The Freegans, for example, were contacted by Nick Pope (or by Franky acting as Nick Pope), who is in contact with Brian. The Quakers were first contacted by Craig (who apparently commissioned Brian to spread lies about us being killers for Christ to the FBI and Long Beach police), and later the Quakers supported David Lowe in actually PAYING Brian to gather information for him/them. (For those who don't know, Brian is the guy who referred to me as being worse than a mass murderer and a serial rapist, and who vowed to dedicate a large portion of his life to taking me out.)

So what I am leading up to in all of this is Bible prophecy... the return of Jesus... the coming kingdom of heaven.

This seems to be one aspect of our teachings which angers almost as many people as our teaching about living by faith. For most churches, Bible prophecy is just empty theory (such as one sees in the Left Behind series) where you can play all kinds of games with the various bits and pieces, choosing to call yourselves post-trib, amillenial, preterist, etc. but never letting it seriously affect your ability to function as just another cog in the great big system. In contrast, when you put the teachings of Jesus and The Revelation together, you come up with something that is pre- programmed to get yourself crucified.

Now that is where I want each one of you to seriously examine yourselves. I don't want to push people to endorse anything said in any of the books we have written about Bible prophecy, because prophecy in itself is never absolute. But I do want to push people to examine themselves personally with regard to their motives in what they do, their visions... both short-term and long-term, and their relationship to God in the midst of it all.

There are thngs about our organisation that, I believe, can make us dysfunctional in terms of building the kingdom of heaven. Cherry was saying to me recently that it may be that those who have a true vision are going to have to break away from the JCs and start a new movement. But it may take a miracle for even ONE of us to make such a move. God may have to recruit new leaders elsewhere.

In the past, people have often convinced themselves that the way to graduate, and to build something better, was just to leave and to do their own thing. But look at them. As much as I want to be open to God speaking through anyone, I cannot bring myself to believe that Kevin and Craig, with their anarchist beliefs and ideals, are building the kingdom of heaven. In fact, despite all of their professed ideals, the one over-riding trademark of their existence has been to tear down the Jesus Christians in particular (and, I believe, the kingdom of heaven in general). Surely, this is not the way to go.

But what we need are some spiritual giants who are big enough to get out there and live it... refusing to take thought for food or clothing, determined to go into all the world... constantly vigilant about examining themselves and their most secret motives... committed to staying faithful to the Lamb and all that he taught, until he returns triumphant over this world as we now know it. Do we have such people in our community?

Sadly, I have to say that if we don't, then we probably need to close up shop and leave the kingdom of heaven to someone else, because he that is least in the kingdom of heaven really does need to be greater than John the Baptist.

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