Thoughts on a Recent Experience
Recently, I met a man, that I’d like you (my Christian readers) to pray for. I’ll call him Bill. Since last September, I’ve been working at a local bookstore waiting for my Fiancee to graduate so we can get married and move back to New York City. One day Bill came into the store looking for books on Jehovah’s Witnesses. I pointed to David’s Reed’s handy little books. Reed was a former Witness elder, so he speaks with a firm understanding of the JW worldview. As I explained the content and goal of these books, Bill began to ask questions about Bible translations.
As many of you already know, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society published their own version of the Bible, the New World Translation. The chief objection to then NWT is that it clearly mistranslates the original languages of Scripture to order to fit their unorthodox doctrines. Bill asked me a number of questions ranging from what are the differences between, say, the NIV translation and the ESV translation, to what are the geneaologies in Genesis are all about. It was an engaging discussion.
He then shared a number of personal stories about growing up as a JW and how morally strict they were. Bill admitted that he even felt uncomfortable mentioning these things because there was the looming fear of Jehovah’s judgment. Then, another thing this kind man admitted to me was that he was a homosexual. He didn’t seem to be saying this with any kind of gay pride, but imply matter-of-factly. This fact was no small thing to his parents, and he told me that they were trying to get him to renounce his sexual preference before coming to Jehovah. As he told me of his reluctance to truly trust in God, a number of thoughts came to mind.
The first is that we believe, or reject, the worldview handed down to us by our parents and leading influences, largely because of how that worldview is portrayed in the lives of those commending it. If Bill’s parent’s were cold, unforgiving, and unaccepting unless he cleaned up his lifestyle, then that’s exactly how Bill is going to start thinking about God. Likewise, an person who grows of admiring a number of people only to find out that they’re all atheists is going to be drawn to that system of thought. We always have personal and cultural reasoning, and not merely intellectual reasons, for believing the things that we do (hat tip to Tim Keller on this point).
The second thing I thought was interesting was that Bill was somewhat right. You don’t abandon a sinful lifestyle in order to clean yourself up before you come to God. Apparently a JW that was leading him in “bible” study for several weeks told him something along the lines of “You need to have a pure heart before you pray to God.” Quickly, and rightly, Bill noted to me how unclean his heart is. And I agreed. If God demand perfection before he came to Him, then Christ died in vain! First, we come to God, and as the gospel transforms us and sheds it’s light into our darkened hearts.
Please pray that the Lord would direct this man to people who love Christ, who love the truth, and will love him.