Monday, May 27, 2013

I am not an Apostate, I am a Christian- A response to Jehovah's Witnesses

I recently heard a discourse that was given at a district convention of Jehovah's Witnesses entitled "Truth brings, not Peace, but a Sword" which will be heard by millions of Jehovah's Witnesses at this years "God's Word is Truth!" district convention.  The talk I heard was given by a Bethelite(a person who has served in a Watchtower facility) and lasted about 20 minutes.  The talk was based upon Jesus' words in Matthew 10:34-36 which reads "Do not think I came to put peace upon the earth; I came to put, not peace, but a sword.  For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother‐in‐law.  Indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household." (NWT)

In this talk I heard the speaker talk about the importance of serving God and Christ and that we ought to be loyal to them, things that I totally affirm and believe. I then began to hear the speaker talk about how following Christ sometimes brings division in some families, something that I also believe in and have experienced.  However the speaker goes even further when he explains that it isn't "the truth"(aka the Watchtower religion) that causes division, rather "that division is because of that family member who refuses to have union with Jehovah God and Jesus Christ and he opposes us".  It's no secret that I was raised in a very devout Jehovah Witness family, I was baptized at 13 years of age and was very zealous in my religion.  At the age of 16 I came to a crossing point between what I read in the pages of the Watchtower and what I found in the Bible.  At 16 I disassociated myself for finding faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, I was not disfellowshipped.  This statement from the convention talk troubles me; I have never refused to be in fellowship or union with Jehovah and Jesus, in fact it was for that very reason that I left.  You see Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only those who associate with their organization can have a relationship with God and Christ, and because I left the JW organization to follow Jesus Christ, in the eyes of the Watchtower and my JW relatives, I am an apostate.  JW's are known for shunning those who leave the faith, a practice they call "disfellowshipping".  They are taught that disfellowshipped or disassociated people are not be to spoken to, that they are unclean and unworthy to be apart of the life of active JW's.

The tone of the talk quickly starts to turn to a predictable us v.s them, we are right, anyone who leaves is wrong.  How reassuring.  The speaker goes onto recognize how important the family bond is, how the bond is even God ordained!  But, the speaker goes on to stress that if a member of that family leaves the organization, they automatically become "wrongdoers" who are the ones who "changed their relationship with Jehovah" and with JW family members.  They shift the blame on the person who left, because of course there is never a legitimate reason to leave that religious organization.  The speaker merely tells those who may have ex-JW family members to "respect Jehovah's arrangement for discipline."  He also warned that "disloyalty to that arrangement results in more distress".  In horrid fashion, the speaker likens disfellowshipped family members to "drug addicts or an alcoholic".  Really?  

This is what worries me, my family member who are still devout Jehovah's Witnesses who will be attending this years convention and who will hear this very 20 minute talk, will in effect view me as an enemy, an apostate.  It has been more than 5 years since I disassociated myself and was born again as a follower of Jesus(John 3:3-7), in those 5 years I have put a lot of effort to reconcile certain family relationships.  In 5 years I went from being an outcast in my own family being disowned, to being respected by at least some of my dear family.  I worry that in 20 minutes, 5 years of prayers, tearers, and patience, will be undone.  In 20 minutes I will likely become an enemy instead of a son, a brother, a cousin, and family.  In 20 minutes I become the kin to a drug addict or alcoholic, instead of being recognized as a faithful husband, father and Christian.  

In hypocritical fashion, the Watchtower Society published the article “Is it Wrong to Change Your Religion?” in the July 2009 Awake p29 states: “No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family.”  This is a clear double standard, for they obviously make people choose between their religious conscious and their family.  Ever since I was a little boy all I ever desired was to worship and serve the One True God, and when I began to understand that "the truth" was not simply a religious organization that was started in the late 1800's, but that "the truth" was in fact a Person, I was convinced that I had found the way.  Why?  Because when Jesus said "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life", I believe he meant it.(John 14:6)  

Jesus said "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."(Matthew 10:37-39)  I have indeed lost all things for the sake of Christ, like Paul "I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things."(Philippians 3:8)  I want my family and every other Jehovah's Witness to understand that leaving their religion for Jesus doesn't make me an apostate, it makes me a Christian.  I never left Jehovah, I found Jehovah; well actually Jehovah found me.  May Jehovah God open the eyes of those who are being misled by the Watchtower, and find those lost within the walls of the Watchtower so that they may see the light of the glory of the gospel of Christ.(2 Corinthians 4:4)  Amen.

You can hear the talk describe above in the following link:

Brian G
Real Truth Ministries