[From ws 12/18 p. 24 – February 25 – March 3]
“You make known to me the path of life.” — Psalm 16:11
Following on from last week’s article the aim of this week’s article is to convince the youth among Jehovah’s Witnesses that following a life in pursuit of Organisational goals is meaningful.
Paragraphs 1 opens with an account of a young high school student named Tony who struggled with school and had no purpose until he encountered Jehovah’s Witnesses. In paragraph 2 it becomes apparent that the aim of the account is to create the impression that Tony found purpose and happiness in life by associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses and later becoming a regular pioneer and ministerial servant.
“OBEY JEHOVAH, AND YOU WILL SUCCEED”
“Tony’s experience reminds us of Jehovah’s deep interest in you young ones among us. He wants you to enjoy a truly successful and satisfying life.”
Paragraph 3 makes a sudden connection between Tony’s experience and Jehovah’s deep interest in young people. The article does not even attempt to explain such a connection. Why exactly does Tony’s experience remind us of Jehovah’s interest in young people? Can it truly be said that Tony has really succeeded in life?
Let us break down Tony’s “success” according to the Organisation:
Firstly, Tony completed school with high grades after studying the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses. Secondly, Tony is a regular pioneer. Lastly, Tony is a Ministerial servant. Do all these things make Tony successful in Jehovah’s eyes or in life in general?
That depends on how you define success. The Bible does not provide us with a definition of success. Suffice to say people may be successful in one aspect of life and completely fail at another. For example, you could be a very successful regular pioneer by meeting your hourly requirements and reporting Bible Studies in line with the Organisation’s guidelines, but have very little success in cultivating certain Christian qualities such as kindness and mildness.
To be truly successful at anything whether spiritual or secular, we should apply the words found in Colossians 3:23,
“Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as for Jehovah, and not for men”
Two principles are brought out in the above scripture:
- When you do anything, work at it whole-souled – apply yourself fully.
- The focus when doing anything should be primarily on our relationship with Jehovah rather than attempting to please men.
Paragraph 4 again aims to convince the reader that Godly advice does not always make sense by alluding to when the Israelites entered Canaan.
“When the Israelites neared the Promised Land, God did not command them to sharpen their fighting skills or train for war. (Deut. 28:1, 2) Rather, he told them that they needed to obey his commandments and trust in him.”
What the paragraph fails to expand on is the fact that Jehovah’s promises to the Israelites had never failed. They had witnessed his saving power when they were leaving Egypt and, in the wilderness, therefore they had no reason to doubt anything God commanded. Can we honestly say the same about the Governing Body’s advice and promises? Think of the number of times they have been wrong about when the end would come. How about the ever-changing doctrine and interpretation of prophecies?
SATISFY YOUR SPIRITUAL NEED
Paragraph 7 provides us with the Governing Body’s definition of a spiritual person.
“A spiritual person has faith in God and has God’s mind on matters. He looks to God for guidance and is determined to obey him. [bold ours]”
There is no requirement in the definition for a spiritual person to unquestioningly obey the viewpoints of men who claim to be appointed by God. The question then is why does the Governing Body expect its members to obey them even on matters which Jehovah has not provided instruction on in His Word?
Paragraph 8 provides us with very good advice:
“How can you grow in faith? You must spend time with him, as it were, by reading his Word, observing his creation, and thinking about his qualities, including his love for you.?”
When we meditate on what we read in Jehovah’s word and reflect on his creation and what it tells about his qualities our faith will grow stronger.
MAKE TRUE FRIENDS
“I am a friend of all who fear you and of those who keep your orders.” – Psalms 119:63
Paragraphs 11 – 13 provides the reader with some good points in relation to making friends. Through David and Jonathan’s example, the paragraphs encourage the youth to pursue friendships with people of different ages. By associating with older ones, young people may benefit from the tested faith and experience that these older ones have.
We would surely want to make friends with people who keep Jehovah’s orders as stated in David’s words at Psalms 119:63. Naturally, this may include those who may not be Jehovah’s Witnesses but who abide by Jehovah’s standards as set out in the Bible, just as it would not necessarily mean all Jehovah’s Witnesses, as a sizeable proportion only pay lip service to Jehovah’s standards.
PURSUE WORTHWHILE GOALS
Paragraphs 14 and 15 focus on worthwhile goals which Jehovah Witnesses should pursue.
What are these goals?
- Getting more out of my Bible reading
- Becoming more conversational in the ministry
- Reaching dedication and baptism
- Becoming a ministerial servant
- Improving as a teacher
- Starting a Bible study
- Serving as an auxiliary or a regular pioneer
- Serving at Bethel
- Learning another language
- Serving where the need is greater
- Helping with Kingdom Hall construction or disaster relief
Which of these goals are scriptural and which are just Organizational objectives?
- Getting more out of my Bible reading (Scriptural)
- Becoming more conversational in the ministry (Organizational)
- Reaching dedication and baptism (Organizational – because baptism is as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, not as a Christian)
- Becoming a ministerial servant (Organizational – as have to show allegiance to the Governing Body and its representatives)
- Improving as a teacher (Scriptural)
- Starting a Bible study (Organizational – because we are encouraged to teach JW Doctrine)
- Serving as an auxiliary or a regular pioneer (Organizational)
- Serving at Bethel (Organizational – Bethels did not exist in early Christian times!)
- Learning another language (Organizational)
- Serving where the need is greater (Organizational- this need is determined by the Organisation, not necessarily where the word of God has not been preached, especially to Non-Christians)
- Helping with Kingdom Hall construction or disaster relief (Organizational (KH’s), Scriptural – disaster relief if to all not just Witnesses)
Note that most of the above goals are based organizational objectives and not supported by scripture. When we dedicate our energy to these, are we dedicating all our time to God or to the Governing Body?
CHERISH YOUR GOD-GIVEN FREEDOM
Paragraph 19: “Jesus said to his followers: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32) That freedom includes freedom from false religion, ignorance, and superstition.” – what a wonderful thought.
The paragraph then goes onto to say,
“Taste that freedom even now by ‘remaining in Christ’s word,’ or teachings. In this way, you will come to “know the truth” not just by learning about it but also by living it.”
If only the Governing Body allowed Jehovah’s Witnesses the freedom to experience these words fully in their own lives. Instead, the Governing Body often encroaches on some of the personal freedoms that Christ affords His followers.
How different the Governing Body is to the First Century Christians who wrote:
“For the holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you except these necessary things [bold ours]: to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper [bold ours]. Good health to you!”. -Acts 15: 28,29