Hi, my name is Eric Wilson aka Meleti Vivlon. At the time of this video, I’m in British Colombia on a dock on Lake Okanagan, enjoying the sunshine. The temperature is cool but pleasant.
I thought the lake was a fitting backdrop for this next video because it has to do with water. You might wonder why. Well, when we’re waking up, one of the first things we ask ourselves is, “Where do I go?”
You see, all our lives we’ve been taught that the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is like this great ark, like the ark of Noah. We were told that it was the vehicle we had to remain in if we were going to be saved when Armageddon came. This attitude is so pervasive that it’s educational to ask a Witness, “What did Peter say when Jesus asked him if they wanted to go? This was on the occasion of the discourse when Jesus told his listeners that they would have to eat of his flesh and drink of his blood if they wanted to have everlasting life. Many found this offensive and left, and he turned to Peter and the disciples and asked, “You don’t want to go as well, do you?”
If you were to ask any Jehovah’s Witness what Peter answered—and I’ve asked this of many a JW—I would lay money that almost 10 out of 10 will say, “Where else will I go, Lord?” But, he didn’t say that. They always get this wrong. Look it up. (John 6:68) He said, “To whom will we go?”
To whom will we go?
His answer demonstrates that Jesus recognized that salvation doesn’t depend on geography nor membership. It’s not about being inside some Organization. Your salvation depends on turning toward Jesus.
How does that apply to Jehovah’s Witnesses? Well, with the mindset that we must belong to and remain inside an ark-like organization, we might think of ourselves as being in a boat. All the other religions are boats as well. There is a Catholic boat, a Protestant boat, an Evangelical boat, a Mormon boat, etc. And they’re all sailing in the same direction. Imagine they’re all on a lake, and there’s a waterfall at one end. They’re all sailing toward the waterfall which represents Armageddon. However, the Jehovah’s Witnesses boat is saiing in the opposite direction, away from the waterfall, toward Paradise.
When we wake up, we realize this cannot be so. We see that Jehovah’s Witnesses have false doctrines just like the other religions—different false doctrines to be sure, but still false doctrines. We also realize that the Organization has been guilty of criminal negligence in it’s mishandling of child abuse cases—repeatedly convicted by various courts in a number of countries.. Additionally, we come to see that Jehovah’s Witnesses have acted hypocritically in telling the members of the flock to remain neutral—even disfellowshipping or disassociating those who fail to do so—while at the same time, affiliating themselves with the United Nations organization repeatedly (for 10 years, no less). When we realize all these things, we are forced to acknowledge that our boat is just like the others. It is sailing with them in the same direction, and we realized that we have to get off before we reach the waterfall, but…Where do we go?”
We don’t think like Peter. We think like trained Jehovah’s Witnesses. We look around for some other religion or organization and, finding none, become very disturbed, because we feel we need to go somewhere.
With that in mind, think about the water behind me. There’s an illustration given by Jesus to tell us exactly where to go. It’s an interesting account, because Jesus is not a showy man, yet he appears to be putting on a show for some reason. Admittedly, Jesus was not given to great displays of showmanship. When he cured people; when he healed people; when he resurrected the dead—often, he told those who were present not to spread the word about it. So, for him to make a showy display of power seems unusual, uncharacteristic, and yet in Matthew 14:23, what we find is this:
(Matthew 14:23-31) 23 After sending the crowds away, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. 24 By now the boat was many hundreds of yards away from land, struggling against the waves because the wind was against them. 25 But in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When they caught sight of him walking on the sea, the disciples were troubled, saying: “It is an apparition!” And they cried out in their fear. 27 But at once Jesus spoke to them, saying: “Take courage! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28 Peter answered him: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you over the waters.” 29 He said: “Come!” So Peter got out of the boat and walked over the waters and went toward Jesus. 30 But looking at the windstorm, he became afraid. And when he started to sink, he cried out: “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately stretching out his hand, Jesus caught hold of him and said to him: “You with little faith, why did you give way to doubt?”
Why did he do this? Why walk on water when he could simply have accompanied them on the boat? He was making an important point! He was telling them that by faith, they could accomplish anything.
Do we get the point? Our boat may be sailing in the wrong direction, but we can walk on water! We don’t need the boat. For many of us, it’s hard to understand how we can worship God outside of an arrangement that is highly structured. We feel we need that structure. Otherwise, we will fail. However, that thinking is only there because that’s how we’ve been trained to think.
Faith should help us to overcome that. It is easy to see men, and therefore it is easy to follow men. A governing body is highly visible. They speak to us, often with great persuasion. They can convince us of many things.
Jesus, on the other hand, is invisible. His words are written down. We have to study them. We have to think about them. We have to see that which cannot be seen. That’s what faith is, for it gives us eyes to see that which is invisible.
But won’t that result in chaos. Don’t we need organizing?
Jesus called Satan the ruler of the world in John 14:30.
If Satan truly rules the world, then even though he is invisible, we have to acknowledge that he is somehow in control of this world. If the devil can do this, how much more so can our Lord govern, control, and direct the Christian congregation? From within those wheat-like Christians that are willing to follow Jesus and not men, I have seen this at work. Though it took a while for me to get rid of the indoctrination, the doubt, the fear that we would need some kind of centralized control, some form of authoritarian rule, and that without it there would be chaos in the congregation, I finally came to see that quite the opposite is true. When you get a group of individuals together who love Jesus; who look to him as their leader; who allow the Spirit to come into their lives, their minds, their hearts; who study his word—you soon learn that they control each other; they help each other; they nourish each other; they feed each other; they guard each other. This is because the Spirit does not work through one man, or even a group of men. It works through the entire Christian congregation—the body of Christ. That’s what the Bible says.
You might ask: “What of the faithful and discreet slave?”
Well, who is the faithful and discreet slave?
Jesus posed that as a question. He didn’t give us the answer. He said the slave would be proven faithful and discreet upon his return. Well, he hasn’t come back yet. So, it is the height of hubris to suggest that anyone is the faithful and discreet slave. That is for Jesus to decide.
Can we recognize who the faithful and discreet slave is? He did tell us how to recognize the wicked slave. He would be known by his abuse of his fellow slaves.
At the annual meeting a few years ago, David Splane used the example of a waiter to explain the work of the faithful and discreet slave. It’s not a bad example actually, although it was misapplied in the case of the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
If you go to a restaurant, the waiter brings you food, but the waiter doesn’t tell you what food to eat. He doesn’t demand that you eat the food he brings you. He doesn’t punish you if you fail to eat the food he brings you, and if you criticize the food, he doesn’t go out of his way to make your life a living hell. Nevertheless, that is not the way of the Organization’s so-called faithful and discreet slave. With them, if you disagree with the food they provide; if you think that it’s wrong; if you want to pull out the Bible and prove it’s wrong—they punish you, even to the point of cutting you off from all your family and friends. Often this results in economic hardship. One’s health is also affected on many occasions.
That is not the way a faithful and discreet slave works. Jesus said the slave would feed. He did not say the slave would govern. It did not appoint anyone as a leader. He said he alone is our leader. So, do not ask, “Where will I go?” Instead, state: “I will go to Jesus!” Faith in him will open the way to the spirit and it will guide us to others of like mind so that we can associate with them. Let us always turn to Jesus for guidance.