Now I realize that those three do not really belong in the same sentence, but hear me out.
So my buddy Jeff and I love Tom Cruise. We love finding clips of TC on YouTube and sending them back and forth to one another. Now don't get me wrong here, I'm not talking about Top Gun, Risky Business, or Jerry McGuire Tom Cruise. I'm talking about crazy yell at Matt Lauer, jump on Oprah's couch, intensely passionate Scientology Tom Cruise. That's a guy you can get excited about.
I mention TC, because he has this crazy aura about him. It's an aura of weirdness, but it's kind of like a train wreck that you don't want to look at, but can't seem to turn away from. There's something about the guy that draws attention. Other than Matt Lauer, most people seem to like him...and he keeps starring in movies. So there must be something to him.
We all know that TC is into Scientology...he's kind of their poster boy/messiah. While Mollie and I were in L.A., we happened to pass the Scientology Celebrity Centre (notice 'Center' is spelled 'CentRE' just to make it a bit more classy and exclusive.) This is a place where the upper echelons of Scientology can come to get away from the rest of the world and its evil engrams while simultaneously avoiding all of those little Joe Shmoe non-celebrity scientologists.
Interestingly, as Mollie and I were going through San Diego, we happened upon another bastion of equality and brotherhood within a 'religion', a Mormon Temple.
Honestly, words failed the first time I saw a picture of this thing. Then some things came to mind: Wizards, Unicorns, Ice Queens, Magic Spells, Rainbow Bright, as well as others I probably shouldn't mention.
I'm not sure how familiar you are with Mormonism, but the gist of the whole temple thing is basically that this is where most of the rituals take place that prepare a person for eventual godhood. The most famous of these is the marriage ceremony. For Mormons to get to the level of having their own planet, they have to be married in one of these temples.
So now you're probably saying to yourself, "I'm glad I'm not a Scientologist, because chances are I wouldn't be able to get into the Celebrity CentRE." But, your also thinking, "Wow, I wish my church looked like Gandalf's palace." Well, those are legitimate points, but let me bring this whole post together with some thoughts on the Church.
I have spent a pretty good amount of time this summer reading about the Church. We have also had the joy of really experiencing the catholic church (and by catholic I mean world wide, not Roman Catholic). Whether it's in Vienna, Jackson, Lawton, Idyllwild, San Diego, D.C., or anywhere, we have experienced tremendous love and encouragement and have shared fellowship with so many people from so many backgrounds. It's so amazing to me that God designed the most all-inclusive group that functions to encourage, counsel, exhort, rebuke, love, share, and experience life the way it was meant to be...TOGETHER.
Jesus doesn't exclude anyone. You don't have to have cleared OT3, or have performed multiple rituals in Isengard. And that's the difference between the Church that Jesus is building, and the stuff L. Ron Hubbard & Joseph Smith were peddling.
Jesus even models how this thing He's setting up is going to be radically different than everything else. In John 13, He (Jesus, God in Human flesh by the way) does the most mind boggling thing that I can think of...He washes the feet of His disciples. This is God...He created these dudes, and He deserves nothing less than them bowing before Him, and yet, He serves them. While there may be a perception that there are higher ups and an elite in Christianity today, in reality, there are no upper echelons of the Church that Jesus is building. The people that would be exalted in God's sight are humble people who love their neighbors as themselves, and model a servant life, just as the One they follow did.
I want to be more loving like my God. I want to be more humble like my Savior. I want to be more of a servant like my friend, Jesus.
I can't see L. Ron or Jo Smith bowing down and serving their followers. And that's the difference.