In this week’s CLAM, there is a video that was released some months back in a monthly broadcast. “Jehovah Will Care for Our Needs” tells the true story of a witness who gave up his job because a schedule change would have required him to miss one of his meetings. He and his family suffered hardship for some time because he was not able to find another job. Eventually, he started auxiliary pioneering, after which he got work.
However, there is an odd note about this story that bothered many of us when we first saw it months ago in one of the monthly broadcasts on tv.jw.org. The brother could have kept his job if he had been willing to go to the meeting in another local congregation. Since he could have spared his family and himself all the hardship and stress that resulted by his quitting, one has to wonder why it mattered so much where he attended, as long as he didn’t miss the meeting.
The lesson this video purports to teach is that if we put the Kingdom first, Jehovah will provide. It follows therefore that one isn’t putting the Kingdom first if one is not attending the meetings in one’s own congregation. The message of this video makes it clear that this brother felt that attending meetings in another congregation would have amounted to compromising his integrity.
Of course, no Scriptural support was given for this conclusion, and it is unlikely that the millions of Witnesses reviewing the video this week will even think to question this omission.
Andere and I were discussing this in light of this week’s CLAM. He’d come to the conclusion it was all about control. A brother who is attending other meetings is not under the watchful eye of the local elders. He can slip through the cracks, so to speak. They cannot properly monitor him.
When Jesus told us to seek first the Kingdom, he didn’t mean that we should follow men. (Mt 6:33) This brother went through considerable hardship, not because he believed putting the kingdom first meant attending all the meetings, but because he thought it meant attending only the meetings he was assigned to attend by the Organization. The video would also have us believe that he was only rewarded for his stand when he took the additional step of seeking first the Kingdom by engaging in an artificial and unscriptural standard of preaching which requires one to put in a quota of hours predetermined by the Governing Body. If one does not complete the quota, one has failed. He cannot rejoice in the increased service he performed, but instead must feel like a failure and will likely have to explain to the elders why he wasn’t able to live up to his obligation.
It’s all about control.
Through the course of this week, this video is going to be seen and studied by eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world. This shows how highly the Governing Body values their control and authority over the flock. They would have us believe that even in the minor point of deciding which congregation meeting to attend, it is a matter of integrity to God that we follow their direction strictly, no matter the cost.
This position is not new. It is very old, in fact. It was condemned by our Lord Jesus, the judge of all Mankind.
“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying: 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the seat of Moses….They bind up heavy loads and put them on the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger.” (Mt 23:1,2, 4)
The Governing Body and the elders who obey them do load us down. They do put heavy loads on our shoulders. But it is easy to shrug your shoulders, and let the load drop to the ground.
Many true Christians have realized the controlling nature of organizational procedures and have shrugged their shoulders by refusing to put in a report of their time. They get harassed for this, because the elders don’t like the loss of control this represents. So they threaten these brothers and sisters with loss of membership.
A publisher who goes out regularly in the door-to-door service, even if putting in 20, 30, or more hours a month, will be considered an irregular publisher (a publisher who doesn’t go out in field service) for the first six months of non-reporting. Then, after six months of no reports, he or she will be considered inactive and the publisher’s name will be removed from the list of congregation members which is posted for all to see on the Announcement Board at the Kingdom hall.
According to them, it doesn’t matter what service you render to God. It doesn’t matter what Jehovah himself sees you do. If you don’t submit to the control of men, you become a non-entity.
It’s all about control.