We’ve all looked at people who join cults and looked down at them from some superior plane of knowledge.
“How could they fall for that?
Don’t they know better?
Can’t they see through this guy’s lies?”
You watch the Netflix series Waco, or a documentary on Scientology and begin to see consistent themes. Why do people join cults? The answer is multifaceted but consistent:
- Something is lacking in their lives
- The leader promises them some sort of fulfillment
- They want to better themselves
- They feel some inherent lack in themselves and this offers wholeness
- They feel cut off from other people and want community
The list goes on. None of these things are terribly surprising.
Last night, I was in the shower—the place I do some of my best thinking—when I realized that there is a gigantic cult we have all fallen for.
You and me. Everyone we know.
And very few people have woken up to it.
Because when you fall for a cult, you become brainwashed. You lose touch with reality. People try to talk you out of it, to show you the light, to wake you up, but it’s incredibly difficult to undo the brainwashing.
It’s global. It pulls on Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and atheists alike.
We all are told that our lives could be better and we can finally be fulfilled IF…
But everyone who has joined; everyone who has gone all-in with this cult has come up lacking. Many people make it to the highest ranks of this cult and regret it. No one has ever looked back and said, “Yah, I’m glad I spent my life pursuing this.”
It’s commercialism. Capitalism.
It’s every commercial we’ve ever seen, working together to promise us a better life and fill the holes inside of us.
Are you lacking community? Buy this fitness program or these clothes and YOU could looks as happy as these models who are paid to smile and hug each other.
Feel like your life is too difficult when you’re home? Maybe you just need this new and improved Swiffer, or this new hi-tech gadget that completes your home once and for all…
There is no single great leader heading up this cult, but many. It’s more of a spirit than a man. The spirit of higher profits, salesmanship, fooling people into buying what you’re hocking. And why do they buy? Because this spirit of MORE has promised that ‘it’ will solve their problems.
‘It’ can be a new car which will make you suave like Matthew McConaughey in a Lincoln.
‘It’ is whatever new protein powder will carve up your body like Adonis so you can finally feel at home in it.
Want to know how successful this cult is at getting you to look where it wants you to? Look at diamonds, chocolate, clothes, coffee. The list goes on.
I rant on diamonds often, but for good reason. People have bitten into this cult of consumerism hook, line, and sinker so much that they can’t imagine a marriage without a diamond ring. Why can’t they? Because an advertisement told them so in 1938.
Despite the fact that over 3 million people have died in the last 20 years as a result of the diamond trade, many Westerners can’t get past the idea that a diamond is necessary for marriage!
Think about how quickly you breezed over that statistic.
3 million humans.
3 million of your nieces and nephews and students.
3 million sons and daughters.
If you think your little rock is more important than 3 million humans made in God’s image, what further proof do you need that you’ve fallen for this cult of advertising? If they can bend your mind into thinking this shiny crystal is worth more than a single human life, then they are a cult on par with the power of Islam’s Jihad. (For a more full post on why you should avoid diamonds, read my post here)
This cult has been lying to you and brainwashed you into believing that this thing is necessary for a wedding, and that new piece of clothing will make you finally feel good about yourself…more than the one they sold you last year.
Come out of Plato’s Capitalist Cave. Realize that fulfillment is not found in buying more and more, until you’ve finally arrived.
Above I mentioned that many people have reached the top of this cult and still felt empty. How many people have gotten filthy rich, bought everything they’ve wanted, and felt satisfied?
“I finally bought enough stuff and then my life was fulfilled,” said no one ever.
Jim Carrey famously said that he wishes everyone could get everything they want, all the money, everything…just to realize it won’t satisfy them. After all, were there people who were satisfied in life throughout history who didn’t have a smartwatch or a Tesla? Why, then, do you think you can’t be happy until you have one?
What’s your reaction when you see an advertisement? Do you allow it to place a new desire in you which wasn’t there before? Do you let it carry you along and tell you what you need?
If so, you may be brainwashed by this cult.
I imagine aliens watching us the same way we watch people in other cults. They see us looking at our phones and TVs which tell us what to buy, and laugh the same way we mock the followers of David Koresh. “How could their little screens control so much of their life!? Their pursuit of happiness and joy? Their money and time? It keeps promising it to them but never delivers! It’s like Jim Jones on steroids.”
Jesus had some words for people who had been carried away by similar ideas. In Rome there was a cult of Caesar, and you worshiped the emperor by giving him your taxes, your annual pinch of incense, and your devotion. Jesus was asked whether His followers should pay taxes to Caesar, and His response is profound.
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s; give to God what is God’s.”
You don’t belong to Caesar, this massive political cult. But you use his roads, his water supply, and so on. So give him a few coins, but keep your soul. Give yourself to God. Give yourself in service to others made in the image of God.
We all need clothes. We all need food. We all need certain things to continue to exist. But own them, don’t let them own you. Don’t let the advertisers own your desires, and by extension, your soul. You want to better yourself? Go for a run. Eat kale instead of Doritos. Read more and scroll less. Don’t fall for the bait.
If someone else profits off of your desires (or the desires they put in you), then you’re in trouble.
Wake up from the cult.
Resist the desires commercials try to place inside you.
May we let Christ free our minds from the reins of this cult, especially in the Christmas season when we are especially susceptible to this avarice.