“The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts.” – Philippians 4:7.
[From ws 4/19 p.8 Study Article 15: June 10-16, 2019]
Jesus continued Praying (Par. 4-7)
This section contains good scriptural points; however, prayer is not a panacea to gaining peace as these paragraphs imply. In addition, this subject has been overly simplified, as there are a number of pre-requisites required for us to receive peace from prayer. One primary reason is that we need to be doing God’s will rather than an Organization’s version of his will. The Apostle Paul, when unconverted Saul, no doubt prayed to God for his blessing when chasing down those he viewed as apostate Jews (the fledgling Christian congregation), but would God or Jesus have given him “peace of mind” at this time? Of course not. Sincerity is clearly not enough.
Zealously preaching the Kingdom (Par. 8-10)
This section bangs the drum yet again to preach. In fact, the inference is that if we do not preach from door to door, we will not be happy.
Paragraph 8 says, “Before he came to earth, he was God’s “master worker.” (Prov. 8:30) And while on earth, he zealously taught others about his Father. (Matt. 6:9; John 5:17) That work brought Jesus great joy.—John 4:34-36”
Note how they equate preaching with the “work” that “brought Jesus great joy”. But was the work only preaching?
Not according to the scriptures. Colossians 3:4-17 strongly indicates that the work was a composite thing. For without love, and other Christian qualities, preaching is in vain. Colossians 3:17 states “And whatever it is that YOU do in word or in work, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, thanking God the Father through him”. Praising and preaching God and Jesus through word of mouth is different to work. Work is required to practice the fruits of the spirit and help fellow Christians. Displaying fruits of the spirit is also not open to interpretation or question, unlike preaching a religion’s own particular brand of Christianity.
Paragraph 9 gives a fine example of F.O.G. (Fear, Obligation, Guilt). It can also be seen that for Witnesses under the FOG the only way to get relief is to carry on doing those things to the fullest extent possible. The experience says, “A sister who has struggled all her life with depression and deep feelings of worthlessness found this to be true. “When I am busy in the ministry,” she says, “I feel more emotionally stable and happy. I think it is because when I am in the field service, I feel closest to Jehovah.” Reading between the lines assuming this unverifiable experience is not made up, the only way this sister gets relief from the heavy burden of fear, obligation and guilt that has been placed upon her by the Organization is by salving her conscience by pushing herself to go knocking from empty door to empty door. Would she not get a much greater sense of satisfaction by helping others, the sick, the elderly, the widows, and orphans, and those with disabilities whether physical or mental. Jesus certainly gained a lot of satisfaction from helping people like this whom he could. (Luke 4:38-40) When we read the Gospel accounts, he also spent far more hours doing this, rather than preaching. What was Jesus reply to John the Baptist’s question “Are you the coming one or are we to expect another?” Luke 7:22 states Jesus reply was “Hence in answer he said to the [two]: “Go YOUR way, report to John what YOU saw and heard: the blind are receiving sight, the lame are walking, the lepers are being cleansed and the deaf are hearing, the dead are being raised up, the poor are being told the good news.”
Paragraph 10 gives another unverifiable experience, this time of someone with multiple sclerosis. What if, instead of preaching from door to door, she focused her efforts on helping others with multiple sclerosis to have a positive outlook, and shared ways she copes with her illness. If she did this not only would she be benefiting the community, and also herself by the mutual encouragement she received, but she would likely get more opportunities to share with others as to why despite her illness she is able to keep such a positive outlook, because of her hope for the future. Instead, she has been blinded by the Organization’s FOG as to what God and Christ really require of her.
Jesus accepted help from his friends (Par. 11-15)
Paragraph 14 states: “Can you think of someone in your congregation whom you can help? Can you do the shopping for a housebound publisher? Can you provide a meal for a family who is struggling financially? If you know how to use the jw.org website and JW Library app, could you help others in your congregation to access the treasures found there? When we are absorbed in helping others, we are more likely to be happy.“.
The sentiment to care for others in need is commendable. Sadly, though it just focuses on congregation members and does not mention neighbours or others we know.
Can you imagine Jesus suggesting others go to a website for spiritual treasures? Would he have recommended going to the original source, God’s word the Bible?
Paragraph 15 mentions, “We should not expect our friends to make decisions for us, but we are wise if we listen to their Bible-based advice. (Proverbs 15:22)”. This is good counsel. In my experience sadly, too many Witnesses come “seeking Bible based advice” when in reality they want their ears tickled. In addition, the great majority of elders are fond of hearing the sound of their own voice and their advice, which they insist is followed, is rarely even remotely Bible based.
How to remain at Peace (Par.16-17)
The final paragraph suggests the following:
“How, then, can you retain your peace of mind when you are shaken by severe trials? You can do so by imitating the things Jesus did. First, pray and persist in prayer. Second, obey Jehovah and preach zealously even when it is difficult to do so. And third, look to your friends to help you through trials. Then the peace of God will guard your mind and heart. And like Jesus, you will conquer any trial.”
It is true that praying and persisting in prayer will help us when under trial. 2 Peter 2:9 shows that “the Lord knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.” (ESV).
But the next sentence is appalling. Paragraph 16 was saying “Because we can gain lasting peace in our thinking and feelings only if we understand and have faith in the role that Jesus fulfills. For example, by means of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, all of our sins can be forgiven. (1 John 2:12)”.
Who gave the instruction to preach? The paragraph continues on to say “And even though Jesus has given us a challenging assignment, he is with us, supporting us through the last days of this system. (Matthew 28:19, 20)”. So, the article admits Jesus gave the instruction to preach, at least to the first century Witnesses who had heard and seen Jesus. But note then what paragraph 17 does. It immediately minimises the role Jesus fulfills by saying that we “obey Jehovah and preach zealously preach, even when it is difficult to do so”. This is part of the continual minimisation of the importance of Jesus Christ.
That is apart from the suggestion that preaching will bring us peace! If preaching has been the cause of the severe trials and the message of the preaching is incorrect, then any peace gained will be a veneer only. If the trials are health problems for instance, how will more preaching bring us peace? There is no way preaching the Organization’s message can bring us peace, unless it is referring to relief from the F.O.G. complex.
This highlights just how shallow the Organization’s teachings and understanding of the Bible is. If a Witness husband maltreats his wife, physically, and or mentally, if the wife asks for help, she is frequently told, be a better, submissive wife, do more preaching and more praying and your problems will go away, you will get peace!
A quick reality check! No, your problems will not go away, and you are highly unlikely to get peace. A husband who treats his wife in such an unkind way is likely a bully. The only way to stop a bully is to stand up to them, not ignore what they are doing and allow them to continue.
The third suggestion is “And third, look to your friends to help you through trials.”. True friends stick with you through thick and thin. The vast majority of Witness “friends” are conditional acquaintances. Try mentioning to your circle of “friends” that you are finding it difficult to believe the Governing Body’s teaching of the overlapping generation and just watch them stampede for the door and shun you from then on.
For a very different consideration of how to obtain and keep peace, one that has no hidden agenda, why not examine these articles on our site “The Peace of God that excels all thought Parts 1 & 2”.