[From ws5/17 p. 22 – July 24-30]
What is this article about? The answer is found in paragraph 4.
In this regard, let us consider three areas of life that if not kept in their proper place could weaken our love for the Christ and for spiritual things—secular work, recreation, and material things. – par. 4
This is what we call a “reminder article”. We all need reminders, don’t we? However, if reminders are all we get, then can we really say we’re getting a well-rounded spiritual diet—food at the proper time, as it were?
Spiritual things should come first. We want them too. But what do we mean by spiritual things? What does the Organization mean when it speaks of spiritual things which should come first?
Paragraph 9 asks:
“To help determine whether we have a balanced view of secular matters and spiritual responsibilities, it is good to ask ourselves: ‘Do I find my secular work interesting and exciting but view my spiritual activities as ordinary or routine?’”
I attended meetings from infancy and I’m now nearing 70. There was a time when meetings were interesting. We spent a good deal of time studying Scripture. But that all changed after 1975. Meetings became repetitive and humdrum. There were many “reminder” articles, like this one. Being a witness became about living a particular lifestyle. It was all about better living through the Organization while we wait for God to destroy everybody else and give us the bounty of the earth for ourselves. It was all about hanging in there and making do with the bare minimum so that we could reap the biggest reward ever. We became what might be termed “spiritual materialists”. Brothers and sisters would point to a beautiful house while out in the field service and say, “That’s the house I want to live in after Armageddon.” The motivation wasn’t love of God or love of Christ. It was all about what they were going to get if they followed the rules the Organization was laying down.
There is nothing wrong with believing the Father will reward those earnestly seeking him. in fact, it is an essential requirement of true faith. (See Hebrews 11:6) But if we focus on the reward and not the Rewarder, we become egocentric and materialistic.
So it is little wonder that meetings have become repetitive and boring. Since all we have to talk about is defined by such narrow parameters, we end up listening to the same talks over and over and reading the same repackaged Watchtower articles.
The preaching work isn’t much different. You have the choice to call on the same homes you’ve been calling on for decades and finding most not home, or of standing passively on the street beside a cart and being ignored by passersby for hours on end. Is this anything like the dynamic ministry Paul engaged in? Yet, if you try something different, you’ll be counselled against “running ahead”. As the July Broadcast showed, when the cart work was first being considered, the Governing Body had to first approve a pilot project in France before giving final approval for worldwide deployment.
Paragraph 10 speaks of the occasion when Jesus visited Mary and Martha, and Mary chose the good portion by sitting at the Lord’s feet to learn. What wonderful truths he must have revealed to her. However, most Watchtower studies dwell on Israelite accounts with little attention focused on the deep things of God revealed by our Lord.
I used to love to talk about the Bible when together with my JW friends, but since I’ve learned new things, I’m reticent to do so, because any disagreement with formal teachings just throws a wet blanket over any discussion. So recently, I’ve tried a different tack by letting others initiate the topic of conversation. The result has been illuminating and depressing at the same time. Witnesses do not discuss the Bible when they are together. Any discussion that they would consider to be spiritual is about the Organization: The last Circuit Overseer’s visit, or the circuit assembly program, or a visit to Bethel, or some “theocratic” construction project, or a family member’s appointment to a new “privilege of service”. And of course, the conversation is peppered with remarks about how near the end is and how this or that world event might portend the fulfillment of prophecy showing how very close we are to the Great Tribulation.
If one brings up a true Bible topic, even a safe one, the conversation peters out. It’s not that they don’t want to learn from the Bible, but that they just don’t seem to know what to say to add to the discussion and are afraid to venture too far off the beaten path of JW dogma.
This, it appears to these old eyes of mine, is what we have become. Totally subservient to men. (I say “we” because I still feel a close affinity for my JW brothers and sisters.)