Did you know that a large number of the founders of major world religions were born during the 600 or so years before the birth of Jesus? (Also, this was during the 'silent' time when none of the books of the Bible were written). Our pastor pointed this out the other day and I was thinking about how religions arise when a group of people decides to follow the teachings of a man. Buddha, Mohammad, and Confucius are just a few of the men of centuries past whose teachings became the basis for major world religions.
As I thought further about it, I realized that many 'cults' or even just sub-groups and denominations of Christianity, are the same way. Martin Luther and John Wesley founded (perhaps inadvertently) Lutheranism and Methodism. Men today have their followings as well. In my recent readings about parenting with grace, I came across comments from people who had been raised under the teaching of Bill Gothard (his seminars advocate many, many 'commitments' and 'rules' to help you be more Godly. In my opinion, although he does have many good things to say, his rules hold a danger of strict legalism that loses sight of grace and even Scripture, and that can (although not always) produce arrogance and/or condemnation toward others). One person who grew up in a "Gothard" household had commented that he realized something was wrong when his father said to him, "What would Bill Gothard say?" instead of "What would Jesus say?".
This following of man is natural, of course, and I am not saying that these people who founded these groups were all trying to create their own religion or cult or anything like that. I am merely observing that a person with an idea or 'revelation', be it true or not, can attract a following. People are attracted to new ideas. They like to follow formulas and 'steps to success'.
However, in each case above, there is a problem. Each of these people are men. They are human. Some were men of God who had great truths to share. Some were men of the world, or men of philosophy and reason. Some were men of Satan. But all were men. Men have failings. They have blind spots. They can be deceived.
The only man who ever lived who was actually worthy of following was Jesus. He was the only man who did NOT have any blind spots, who had no failings, and who was never deceived. Yet he was a man. He was born in blood and pain. He cried when he was a baby. He had to be 'potty trained'. He learned his letters and how to read. He got tired and weary. He got sad and angry. He was a man.
But He was also God! He was the only man who ever lived who was also God. He was the only man about whom we can ever say, in every situation, "what would He say?"
If you ever find yourself looking too much to the teachings of one man. Stop and remember that he is a man (or woman, I use the word to refer to 'mankind') who is NOT God. Study the life and words of Jesus, the only man who will never disappoint or fail or be deceived!