Witnesses are taught to believe that the food they get from those claiming to be the Lord’s Faithful and Discreet Slave constitutes a “banquet of well-oiled dishes”. They are led to believe that this nutritional bounty is unparalleled in the modern world and are strongly discouraged from going to outside sources; so they have no way of knowing how their supply of spiritual nutrition stacks up against what is available elsewhere.
Nevertheless, we can evaluate the level of spiritual nutrition available from this month’s JW.org Broadcast using the best comparison of all, God’s Word the Bible. In doing so, we will bear in mind that these videos have become the primary teaching and feeding medium of the Organization, ranking with and even surpassing the historical staple of the weekly Watchtower study article. We might say this because the impact of a video which enters through both the eyes and ears is powerful in reaching and molding both mind and heart.
Since, by their own account, Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only true Christians on earth, the only ones practicing “pure worship”—a term used repeatedly in the broadcast—one would reasonably expect the content to overflow with praise and glory to our Lord Jesus. He is, after all, the Christ, the anointed of God; and being a Christian literally means “anointed one”, with the term being universally understood to refer to people who follow and imitate Christ Jesus. Therefore, any talks, experiences, or interviews should be rife with expressions of loyalty to Jesus, love for Jesus, obedience to Jesus, appreciation for Jesus’ loving oversight, faith in Jesus’ hand in protecting our work, and on and on. This is clearly the case when one reads Acts of the Apostles, or any of the spiritually nutritional letters to the congregations written by Paul, and the other apostles and older men of the first century congregation.
As we view the broadcast, we do well to ask ourselves how it measures up to the Bible standard of directing our attention to our Lord Jesus?
The broadcast starts with a video on how safety procedures are implemented at JW.org construction sites. There is nothing in the Christian Scriptures about “theocratic construction” nor construction safety procedures. While important and relevant to training videos for construction workers in any project, this hardly constitutes spiritual food. Notably, the various individuals being interviewed use the occasion to praise Jehovah and one can see their great pride in the Organization that bears his name. Jesus, sadly, is not mentioned.
The next part of the video recounts the hardships that an 87-year-old Circuit Overseer in Africa experienced in his early years and ends with pictures showing the growth in that area. He is tearful as he ponders how much the Organization has grown over the years. None of this growth is attributed to Jesus, however.
The host next introduces the video theme of being God’s fellow workers, citing 1 Corinthians 3:9 as the theme text. However, if we read the context, something of great interest emerges.
“For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field under cultivation, God’s building. 10 According to the undeserved kindness of God that was given to me, I laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, but someone else is building on it. But let each one keep watching how he is building on it. 11 For no one can lay any other foundation than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1Co 3:9-11)
Not only are we “God’s fellow workers”, but we are his field under cultivation and His building. And what is the foundation of that divine building according to verse 11?
Unquestionably, we must base all our teaching on the foundation that is the Christ. Yet this broadcast, this prime teaching tool of the Organization, fails to do that. This is clearly evidenced by what comes next. We are shown a video of a faithful, very dear missionary sister (now deceased) who was of “the anointed”. Here is someone who is to be part of the bride of Christ by JW teaching. What a wonderful opportunity this presents for us to witness how an intimate relationship with our Lord affects the life and demeanor of one Jesus would call “sister”. Yet, again, there is no mention of Jesus.
Praising Jehovah is good, of course, but the fact is, we cannot praise the Son without praising the Father, so why not praise Jehovah through His anointed one? In fact, if we ignore the Son, we do not praise the Father despite an abundance of glowing words.
Next, we are treated to videos about the need to care for, maintain, and clean the 500+ JW Assembly Halls around the world. These are called “centers for pure worship”. There is no record that first century Christians built “centers of pure worship”. Jews built their synagogues and Pagans built their temples, but Christians met in homes and ate meals together. (Acts 2:42) This portion of the video is designed to encourage a volunteer spirit to maintain and care for the real estate owned by the Organization.
Following this, we are treated to Geoffrey Jackson’s Morning Worship part on the difference between being a leader and taking the lead. He makes excellent points, but the problem is that he is explaining what he apparently believes is the status quo. Anyone hearing this would believe that this is how the elders among Jehovah’s Witnesses act. They are not leaders, but they do take the lead. These are men who lead by example, but do not impose their personal will. They do not tell people how to dress and groom themselves. They do not threaten brothers with the loss of “privileges” is they do not pay heed to their counsel. They do not intrude into the lives of others, imposing their own values. They do not pressure young ones to avoid educating themselves as they see fit.
Sadly, this is not the case. There are exceptions, but in most congregations, Jackson’s words do not fit the reality. What he says about “taking the lead” is accurate. The circumstance that it represents within the Organization reminds me of Jesus words:
“Therefore, all the things they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say but they do not practice what they say.” (Mt 23:3)
Following this discourse, we are treated to a music video extolling the benefits of putting down the phone and enjoying the company of friends. Practical counsel, but to this point in the Broadcast, have we yet risen to the level of providing spiritual food?
Next, there is a video about not allowing oneself to feel isolated nor to become judgmental. The sister in the video is able to correct her wrong attitude. This is good counsel, but are we directed to Jesus or to the Organization as the solution? You will notice that she manages to correct her bad attitude not by prayer and reading God’s word, but by consulting an article from The Watchtower, which is again referenced at the end of the Broadcast.
The broadcast ends with a report from Georgia.
This is a feel-good video, as it is intended to be. But what does it make the viewer feel good about?
“I do indeed also consider all things to be loss on account of the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have taken the loss of all things and I consider them as a lot of refuse, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in union with him. . .” (Php 3:8, 9)
Has this “food at the proper time” helped you to increase your knowledge of the Christ which is of “excelling value”? Has it drawn you to him, so that you “may gain Christ”? The Greek does not contain the added words “union with”. What Paul actually says is “to be found in him”, that is, ‘in the Christ’.
The food that benefits us is food that helps us become Christ-like. When people see us, do they see the Christ in us? Or are we just Jehovah’s Witnesses? Are we of the Organization, or of the Christ? Which does this Broadcast help us to become?