Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I have been learning many lessons since visiting our local Kingdom Hall for their Tuesday night books studies lately. Yes, that’s right, an intelligent, well spoken, friendly, honest and wonderful married couple who are Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on my door this summer…and that has sparked a valuable friendship and a new leg in the spiritual journey and formation of my life. You can imagine their delight when I asked them if they would like to have a weekly Bible study in my home…they could hardly contain their excitement! And who can blame them, most people are so mean, rude and very harsh to them. It’s really uncalled for actually. They are just people doing the best they can to get to heaven just like the next guy…they really do not mean any harm.

After one or two studies I asked them, “would it be ok if I came with you to a book study in your Kingdom Hall?” I thought they were going to fall out of their chairs…talk about full of joy! Would it be ok? Now that I look back at the question it is humorous…that’s a big deal for them…to get someone to whom they are witnessing to actually come out for a book study at the Kingdom Hall...that’s a big deal to them to say the least. Most people are very intimidated to actually go to a Kingdom Hall and need lots reassurance that nothing weird is going to happen. To have me just come out and initiate the subject…well…I doubt that has happened to either of them very often. “Absolutely!” she said with a smile.

So, before I knew it, I was following them in their car to the Kingdom Hall on the outskirts of Wadsworth. I felt kinda silly actually, I was wearing shorts, sandals and a t-shirt (normal church fashion for me during the summer)… they both were dressed in what could best be described in traditional Christendom terminology as “Easter Sunday dress.” (no pun intended). Oh well, they loved me in spite of my less than formal attire…genuinely I believe. Nobody judged me or looked at me funny when I walked in, they welcomed me with hand shakes and smiles…I felt welcomed immediately even in my shorts, sandals and t-shirt. More than one friendly person asked if I would like to sit next to them and they all made sure that I had the “study guide” book (which I did cause my friends had already given me one a few weeks prior). I’m sure if I would have asked for a New World Translation of the Bible they would have quickly given me one for free. They are a very friendly and warm bunch of people, to each other and to visitors. They are a real family, a true community.

Well I suppose I can let you off the hook. I’ve not become a Jehovah’s Witness, but, I have seriously considered it. WHAT? Yes, you read me correctly. When I asked them to come into my home I asked them to come in sincerity. If they could show me in the original languages of the Bible that Jesus is not Yahweh, not the Lord, and is actually Michael the Archangel…then that would be enough for me to convert and become a Jehovah’s Witness. Honestly, God knows my heart, I would do it the day I was shown such a thing in the Bible. I told them that. In fact, after confiding this with them I asked them a question of them that would bring them to a similar admission. I asked them, “if I can show you, in the original languages of the Bible, that Jesus is in fact Yahweh… Almighty God… will you leave the Watchtower organization and be baptized as a born again Christian?” You could have heard a pin drop. Here I had been open and honest enough to what they had to say…would they be as open to change as I? My heart breaks as I recall the torment that question caused this young women. The question did put her in a hard position, after all, she was being asked to be open to actually forsaking the organization she absolutely believes is God’s organization and on the other she is being asked to deny reason…a dilemma no “Witness” would enjoy.

So for the first time since being baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness, I am sure, my friend openly confessed to being open to leaving the Watchtower…even though it was (or she hoped it was) a purely hypothetical situation…a crack started to form. I then turned and asked her husband the same thing. I really like him…he is quite (she does most of the talking) and a deep thinker. His dad is an elder in that Hall. He looked at me and paused for several moments and then he said “yes”, that if I could show in him in the original languages of the Bible that Jesus is God Almighty that he would leave the Watchtower and be baptized as a born again Christian. Words can not describe how shaken such an admission caused their countenance to become. I’d say for the remainder of that conversation they were shaken, nervous and just over all unsettled.

Three weeks later I meet with his dad, an elder from that Hall none the less, in my home. My friend, the man who I met originally could not make it so his wife brought his dad, her father in law instead. I told him how serious I was about becoming a Jehovah’s Witness if they could show me in the original languages that Jesus is not God Almighty but is rather Michael the Archangel. I asked him the same question that I had asked his son and daughter in law…which I think really upset her for some reason, I could just tell that she got tense when I asked him…and it caused a great deal of consternation in his face for more than just a moment. He took a nervous breathe and looked down, considered the cost and looked back up. “No” he said, “it’s God’s organization.”

Did that upset or disappoint me? Yeah, I guess so. But, don’t forget, I’m that pesky “Calvinist” so I know that no amount of hardening is too much for God to soften in an instant. I guess it just made me feel sorry for the man, truly. I didn’t exactly ask a small thing from him. He’s got to be in his mid 50’s. He was baptized as a teenager if I remember his testimony right. Keep in mind, the life of a Jehovah’s Witness is a hard, very hard and ridiculed life. He told me how back when he was a kid he would have to sit in the principles office during Christmas parties and other such activities cause he would have been marked “truant” had he stayed home in order to abstain. The man has been shot at more than once, threatened and made fun of since he was a teen. Family ties have been cut, by his non-Witness family and by his own doing I’m sure…but cut none the less. Where has he always found a place of acceptance and understanding? Where has this man always been welcomed and respected? In the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. That’s where. The Baptists shot at him more than once down south, the Pentecostals slammed the door in his face and Roman Catholics cussed him out…year after year. Think about what I asked him to do before judging him too harshly. That man, along with all Jehovah’s Witnesses will lose their best friends, those people who have been there when they had no earthly family…any family members who are Jehovah’s Witnesses as well will be lost. Lost. Do you understand that? The relationship would not just change or be strained…it would be lost. Very few born again Christians have ever made such a sacrifice for Christ…I know I have never had anything close to that happen cause of my salvation.

So my first lesson has been this: People are people. No matter what their religion, their race, sexual orientation, belief, politics…people are people. People are all sinners and no person is worse off than the next. No person is more brainwashed than the next. Apart from the grace of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ we are all fools. I’ve learned that the person knocking on my door wondering if I know God is a sinner him or herself…needing salvation just like any…body…else…

part 2 later...you know how I am...

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

You don't have to be a calvinist to believe that God can soften the hardest of hearts. I too feel sorry for the father of your friend. To say that you will continue to follow something even if you know you're wrong for doing it...it's just amazing to me. I can't even imagine that. I'll be praying for your friends and for you.

Mark Jones said...

Everyone follows a god... It's cool to see the soft, compassionate, yet bold and burdened side of Gary Fox... I love ya man... You are in my prayers.

irreverend fox said...

anonymous,

you're right..only Calvinists are consistent in that line of thinking however ;^)

It's not just the JW's that are like that...we all continue to rebell inspite of the truth...

Mark,

You can't have my Miller Light. Besides, I'm recieiving NAMB funds so you should know that I don't have Miller Light any way...

Thanks for your undeserved kind words...

irreverend fox said...

anonymous 2,

I am not sure if you are just a spammer or what that comment was about...but give context next time and I'll consider keeping it up here.