Friday, January 1
Go, . . . and make disciples of people of all the nations. —Matt. 28:19.
All of God’s faithful servants want to learn how they can “fully accomplish” the ministry that they have been given to do. (2 Tim. 4:5) After all, this work is more important and more urgent than any other occupation in life. However, it can be a challenge to spend as much time in the ministry as we would like. Other important activities demand our time and energy. We may have to work secularly many hours a day to provide the necessities of life for ourselves and our family. We may struggle with other family responsibilities, sickness, depression, or the aches and pains of advancing age. If our circumstances limit the amount of time we can spend in Jehovah’s service, we should not feel discouraged. Jesus knew that not every one of us would be able to produce the same amount of Kingdom fruitage. (Matt. 13:23) Jehovah highly values everything we do in his service as long as we are doing our best. —Heb. 6:10-12. w19.04 2 ¶1-3
Dictionary definition: “Go” verb (used without object), went, gone, go·ing. to move or proceed, especially to or from something: They’re going by bus. to leave a place; depart: People were coming and going all the time.
Jesus had been resurrected. He appeared to the disciples on multiple occasions. On one occasion the 11 apostles met Jesus on a mountain in Galilee and Jesus said to them: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.”
After receiving the promised holy spirit the disciples did as Jesus commanded them. They went. They preached. They taught. They baptized.
For the past 10 months, the Watchtower has suspended the public ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Not only that, every kingdom hall and assembly hall has been shuttered. As a substitute for the door-to-door work and the street ministry, JW’s have been instructed to write letters and make phone calls.
The question is, how can Jehovah’s Witnesses obey Christ’s command to “go” with a stay-at-home ministry? Take note too, an important aspect of Jesus’ command was to baptize believers. How is it possible to baptize anyone in a virtual meeting? And if special arrangements are made to baptize someone, why not just meet together as in the past?
At first, the state authorities presented the lockdown as no more than a couple of weeks to “slow the spread” of a virus that is only lethal to a very small percentage of the population. That seemed reasonable. The two weeks turned into months and now it is almost an entire year. Still, for the most part, states in the United States have eased restrictions. People are back to work. Kids are going to school in most places. Here in Michigan kids have the option to attend class or go virtual. And here in Michigan churches are open. There is no law against meeting together for worship. There may be government restrictions in other places. I don’t know. But here in the United States the Constitution is the Law of the land. And the First Amendment is pretty clear. There can be no law that restricts the free exercise of religion, such as preaching, or peaceful assembly.
So, the shutdown of the ministry is not required by law. There is no law that prohibits Jehovah’s Witnesses from going out knocking on doors or setting up their information carts on public streets. There is no law that can prevent ministers from going to a private home to make a return visit or conduct a Bible study. There is no law that prohibits Jehovah’s Witnesses from meeting in their kingdom halls.
I have said it before. At the risk of annoying my regular readers, I am going to say it again. Over the summer in the run-up to the November election, Republican volunteers knocked on an average of half a million doors every week. Think of that. Political supporters of Trump are more zealous for their candidate than Jehovah’s Witnesses are for Jehovah!
What makes the Watchtower’s lockdown even more tragic is that now millions of people are at home who would not ordinarily be home. Some are out of work and millions are working from home. Furthermore, people are worried about the future. They are frightened. They are anxious. It is reported that Bible sales are way up. People are looking to the Bible for answers. What a golden opportunity. Not only can Jehovah’s Witnesses supply Bibles in over 100 languages, but they also have answers to many of the basic questions that are on peoples’ minds. Jehovah’s Witnesses can supply genuine comfort and hope based upon their knowledge of God’s word and the holy spirit they have been given as ministers of Christ. If there was ever a moment for Jehovah’s Witnesses to let their light shine it is now!
But the Governing Body has ordered Christ’s ministers to place their lamps under a basket —so-to-speak. According to Anthony Morris it is reckless and foolhardy to venture out on the street to preach. The Governing Body’s latest update reports more than 7,500 brothers and sisters have died from Coronavirus. That is truely tragic. But in an organization of over 8.5 million that represents less than one-tenth of a percent and is about what the mortality rate was before the pandemic.
What happened to commonsense? It is well-known that the elderly are the most vulnerable. Millions of people have contracted the virus. Some never even become ill. Others, like President Trump and Boris Johnson, recovered quickly with the right treatment. Would not the sensible thing be for elderly JW’s to avoid meetings and perhaps restrict field service? If young and healthy Christians are going to work and school and carrying on regular activities why has the Watchtower prevented JW’s from obeying the command of the Lord to “go”? Could it be that secretly most JW’s are happy to stay at home?
SURROUNDED BY TEACHERS WHO TICKLE THEIR EARS
The Daily Text cites 2 Timothy 4:5. In context Paul wrote the following: “I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his manifestation and his Kingdom: Preach the word; be at it urgently in favorable times and difficult times; reprove, reprimand, exhort, with all patience and art of teaching. For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the wholesome teaching, but according to their own desires, they will surround themselves with teachers to have their ears tickled. They will turn away from listening to the truth and give attention to false stories. You, though, keep your senses in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry.”
Many would agree that these are “difficult times.” And that is why, at least according to the authority of the inspired apostle, Christians should preach the word with urgency and all the more do the work of an evangelizer and fully accomplish their ministry.
How is it that after all these many decades of zealous preaching, through Nazi tyranny, underground meetings, mob violence, bans, economic depressions, wars, and everything else, that now eight men have ordered the public preaching and meeting together to stop? Why have millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses willingly complied?
It is strange, creepy really, that the WT pretends that everything is as it has been. This day’s text comments really says it all. You would think after being locked down for nearly a year that Bethel’s writers could come up with something more relevant —at least online. Why not instruct publishers on how to make an unsolicited phone call? Why put up a pretense that there is still some sort of field service?
Is it not the case that JW’s are no longer putting up with the healthful teaching of Christ and the apostles and are glad the Governing Body is tickling their ears? It is understandable that after years of working in unresponsive territories that publishers and pioneers might become tired of knocking on doors that rarely open. No doubt Jehovah’s Witnesses are worn down and weary of getting suited up and driving to the kingdom hall week after week, year after year, listening to the same tired speakers go over the same material, again and again with no let-up in sight.
The pandemic lockdown has been like a godsend. You can be sure that many tired-out ministers and elders are relieved to know they can sit at home in their jammies and jeans and write letters and make a few phone calls and be saving lives just by not being out there! And Zoom really makes it easy too. Super easy. Just sitting there looking at a computer screen is what we do anyway. Now the GB says it is all that God expects of us in these difficult times. That is wonderful news! Hallelujah!