As I continue to grapple with my fear of new situations and meeting new people, it highlights for me how much our life at The Community of Jesus was based on, and permeated by, fear. From the very beginning it was impressed on me that when I did anything wrong I could expect wrath. There was only one incident of physical abuse directed at me, but the rest of the time it was verbal abuse, yelling and name calling, and the threat of God’s displeasure and losing salvation.Can you imagine God’s love and salvation being used as a trump card to get you to obey? Between knowing that you had to be in the leaders’ good graces,and the shunning that occurred if you were out of line, every day was full of fear. I ask again, how is that Christian? It isn’t of course, but as a young adult, newly converted, I didn’t know that. This is what I was taught to be the Christian message. I read the Bible of course, but all the public teachings, and led Bible studies emphasized the “deeper message” of dying to yourself, needing to crucify all of your own will, thoughts and emotions. This was supposed to sanctify and clarify you so you could be a true vessel of God, with nothing of yourself to get in the way. It was/is a subversion of an individual’s identity so the leaders could use you as they pleased. They said they were led by the voice of God, and that we had to trust that the decisions they made about our lives was God’s will. No where and at no time was I allowed to be a part of those decision. Even the seemingly self-directed choice of taking vows was still very pressured by expectations and peer pressure, and by disclosed “words of truth” that the “Mothers” gave out as being prophecy from God for individuals. Very powerful stuff when coupled with a belief system.
Naturally I am skeptical of any kind of control, now, but I do want fellowship, so I am feeling my way. I am discovering that CJ is not the norm. It is not unique, because every cult operates under the same principles of control, but they are way off of the mainstream, not just normal cultural mainstream, but way off of the teachings of Jesus.
The fear I experience now highlights for me what I lived under, and each fear is an opportunity to build new patterns and experiences, which I am very grateful for.