Monday, September 16, 2013

Rejecting Jehovah's Witness: Turning From Death and Choosing Life

…but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:6b-9

            Unfortunately, I didn’t know the aforementioned Scripture and continued to happily, self-servingly entertain the Jehovah’s Witnesses in my home. I even took the next step of attending studies at their local kingdom hall. But they quickly became frustrated because they weren’t making any real progress with me.
            Yet, during this time I felt “the urge” to purchase my first study Bible and attend an evening Bible study at our church. (I still remember walking hesitantly into that Christian bookstore for the first time, thrilled to be there, trying to look as though I belonged, hoping no one I knew saw me perusing the shelves.) Unfortunately, the church study was cancelled during the summer, so I once again invited the Witnesses to return to my home for once-a-week “Bible study” while our boys played together.
            Frankly, the Bible intimidated me, but that attitude was merely an excuse. Keeping the Bible at a comfortable distance from my brain and heart served a purpose.
            I was hiding.
            No longer enjoying intimacy with God, and ignoring His blueprints for living, gave me an “excuse” for loving and serving the world. Turning up my nose and deliberately, willfully averting my face from truth, I arrogantly, stubbornly claimed ignorance and showed preference for a more “enlightened knowledge.” I turned to the secular world for easier, comfortable answers. That way I could accept what I liked—what was humanly pleasing—and discount the rest. It seemed so much simpler, more pleasant to listen to it on Sundays and live like the rest of the world—ignoring it, or outright rejecting it—the other six days of the week. 
            But I could no longer ignore the fact that my heart ached to know God in an intimate way. I, like everyone else, had a God-sized hole in my heart that called to Him; a hole I’d been attempting to fill up with everything but Him! I needed to get honest with myself and get to know—really know— Him; I needed to read and study that big love letter He’d written to the world. No excuses; no more relying on what others thought or said of Him; no awaiting a more convenient time. And no skipping the Old Testament!
            Being lovingly, firmly urged by God’s Spirit to search the Scriptures, I finally submitted. At that critical juncture, the Witness friends instantly recognized my decisive movement away from them and their teaching. The undeclared division was so strong and eerily palpable they sensed it, commented on it.
            Yet I’m grateful for the Witnesses’ first visit. They forced me to really taste God’s Word, and God’s Spirit caused me to be ravenous for His truth, to fill the gnawing void with Him and with answers to the questions. To take my lifeless existence and replace it with Life!
            God took a potentially deadly open door and worked it out for His own good and perfect purpose. He’d certainly kept his promise: He wouldn’t let me out of His hand. I’d been so arrogant, so foolish to wander from His sheepfold, believing I was strong enough, big enough, clever enough to confront the wolves on my own, or stupid enough to deny the existence of any wolves! As He promised, He’d persistently, diligently searched for His lost sheep, and now I was being gently carried home.  
            The Witnesses’ Watchtower books and pamphlets rapidly disappeared from my shelves because of the potent sense of evil they emitted. (I know, many of you just wrinkled up your nose, rolled your eyes and muttered, “Andrea, you’re nuts!” I assure you I’m not since I tend to be a cynic who rejects sensationalism.) Just seeing the Watchtower material occupy a place on my bookshelf next to my Bibles, new theology books and Bible study guides I’d begun to accumulate turned my blood icy and made me shiver in perceptible fear.
            The first thing I did was ask God to forgive me for allowing evil to gain such an insidious entry into my life.
            But the Witnesses forced an uncomfortable decision by initiating a smoldering clash between truth and deceit. Even though deceit doesn’t go down without a fight, and may initially gain some ground, it never wins the final victory when the Light of the world is the commander on the opposite side of the battle line. 
            Even in my weakened state, which rendered me vulnerable to making a foolish decision, the Lord used my otherwise self-destructive choice to further His good work in a very unusual way.


NEXT WEEK: Taking a good, hard look at myself—and my life—and beginning the transformation of becoming a woman of joy and purpose…

Thanks for joining me.

Until next week!