My family thinks I belong to a cult

Krista Ortiz

You never anticipated your decision to go to church would be met with such controversy.

At best, you were hoping your family would be happy you were involved in a church. At worst, you figured they’d be indifferent. 

Instead, they’re hurling accusations that you are a part of a cult, leaving you offended, misunderstood, and just plain defeated.

You’re Not Alone

If your family thinks you’re crazy, you’re in good company. Jesus’ family thought He was a little crazy, too. In Mark 3:21, large crowds were following Jesus and, “when his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind…’”

But Jesus didn’t let it get to Him — not because He didn’t want His family’s support, but because He wanted God’s approval more.   

People Think We’re Weird Because We Are

Jesus sat with the ignored and the disregarded. (Weird.) He made it His mission to love those the world considered unlovable and to forgive those deemed unforgivable. (Again, weird.)

So if Jesus is to be our example one thing is certain: People will think we are weird because, compared to the rest of the world, we are!

How To Handle “Crazy” Accusations

1. Invite Questions

It’s easy to become combative when standing up for something you care about, but ask yourself: Am I being defensive when my family asks questions? If so, why? Am I afraid I won’t have the right answers?

Never feel ashamed if you don’t have the ‘right’ answer. Just simply respond, “That’s a great question. In fact, I want to know the answer too, so let me find out and get back to you…” Then ask someone you trust to help direct you to the right answer, and then bring back your findings to your family.

Also, never underestimate the answer you do have!

1 Peter 3:15 says, “…always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who ask you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Each question is an opportunity to provide an answer for the hope that we have found in Jesus, so invite people’s questions with gentleness and respect. After all, that’s how Jesus always invites ours.

2. Get The Facts

It’s easy to just roll your eyes or chalk up your family’s comments to ignorance instead of trying to understand their concern, and even more, why it’s not true.

But with a little research, you can feel confident in knowing what a cult really is, and be better prepared to explain the difference between radically following Jesus and joining a cult.

God will always equip us to meet our biggest critics and their greatest accusations with gentleness and respect.

Following Jesus is not about being weighed down by rigid rules like that of a cult, but about being invited into a relationship. Our relationship with Jesus is not earned by submitting to the authority of any one leader or organization. Our relationship with Jesus is an intimate relationship pursued by the God who knows our greatest failings, and who loves us immensely, even still.

God will always equip us to meet our biggest critics and their greatest accusations with gentleness and respect. With His help, we can take the most pointed questions aimed at us, and point them back to the love and power we find in Jesus.

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