January 30, 2006
xxxxxxxxxx, xx xxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxx Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses
xxxxxxxxxx, xx xxxxxx
Dear Mr. xxxxxxx xxxxxxx
Re: Disassociation Letter
It has taken me a long time to write this letter because I could not decide what to say. I thought about discussing every point were I do not agree with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I thought about pointing out how the past false prophesies of the religion has made it obvious it is not governed by God’s holy spirit. (Deut. 18: 20-22) This letter also might have been about my objections to a group of men I have never met, nor know their names deciding my beliefs and my inability to have any thoughts based on my personal study and relationship with God. But instead, I decided to relate to you my own spiritual journey and to show you that my motives are pure, and how I have developed an ever closer relationship with Jehovah.
How beautiful it is to experience the freedom and joy of a love relationship with God! Yet how sad it is that Jehovah’s Witnesses insist on relating to God in a legalistic way. Their righteousness is based on what they can do for the Jehovah instead of on what He has already done for them. They carry around a huge list of "do's and don'ts" to keep them bound to God.
I am no stranger to that depressing kind of negative righteousness. As I was growing up, I considered myself one of the most godly kids because of what I didn't do. I didn't smoke. I didn't associate with “worldly kids.” I didn’t go to watch rated “R“ movies. I was taught that such things were utterly sinful. So not only did I avoid those things, I also believed I was far more righteous than my weaker friends who indulged in them. I thought I was much more holy than some elder’s kids, who was known to sneak around and go to school dances or kiss a boy at the skating rink. I was above all that, and I was sure Jehovah noticed.
Still, I had a big problem. Although I didn't go to school dances, I longed to pick out a prom dress, so I felt condemned. I would get a new determination again every Sunday night and would promise Jehovah that next week was going to be different.
Because my righteousness was a matter of willpower and effort, before long my relationship with God became a tremendous strain. Every summer I would attend our district conventions. On the last evening we would sing the last song and clap, ending a spiritual paradise. I would have written in my assembly program things I would work on to bring me closer to Jehovah. I remember one assembly in particular where tears would roll down my cheeks knowing that I was going put away my teenage fleshly desires. I would tell God that I wanted my life to be consumed by His love and that I wanted to give myself completely over to serving Him.
As we left the assembly I would reflect back on my notes and my new determination to live a life completely acceptable to Jehovah God. I would keep the program in my Bible to look at when I attended the meetings, remembering my promises to stay no part of this world that was passing away.
I was careful to keep all my commitments - but I also ended up in a draining, legalistic relationship with God. I had very little joy in my walk with God because I was tied to God by a contract. I couldn't break my agreement; hadn't I signed and dated it, and didn't I carry it around with me in my back pocket? No, I was committed to keeping this agreement and I fiercely believed that God owed me something for my efforts. God had to be good to me... at least, better to me than He was to those who didn't follow through on their commitments.
Imagine how let down I felt when no matter how hard I tried, I still did not feel like I was happy. I spent summers pioneering. I had set Bethel service as a goal for myself. I worked hard to get above average hours in the field ministry. I tried to place more magazines. I set goals for more return visits. The more I thought about it, the more confused I became. Here I was keeping my end of the bargain, yet God seemed to pay no attention at all. I constantly felt let down. I was not having any amazing results in field service. Things in general did not seem to be working out any better for me at all.
Every once in a while, of course, I would get honest with myself and begin to see that I wasn't nearly as righteous as I liked to think. I knew that my attitude frequently was not what it should have been. There were moments when I knew I had thoroughly fallen short of Jehovah's will for my life. I recall a time when I had a boyfriend for 23 hours. For six months afterwards I lived in utter condemnation because I had a weak moment. Often I would give up on the idea that Jehovah would ever see fit to bless me. There were a lot of things I wanted to pray for, but what right did I have to ask Him for anything when I had failed Him so miserably?
This heavy burden of works-righteousness carried over into my early married years in. It didn't take long for me to realize that there had to be more to ministry than what I was experiencing, more to a relationship with Jehovah than what I enjoyed. I wanted to feel his presence in my own personal life!
In the summer of 2005, soon after our district convention I had a hard time understanding a particular point in the scriptures. I pointed it out to my parents and they really did not hear me. It was two weeks later we got a new WatchTower article that featured “new light”. The article said exactly what I had been thinking. It hit me. Why could I not read the scriptures and discover the message they held for us with my own two eyes through prayer and meditation? It was scary for me to believe in “present truth” all the while knowing that any number of “truths” could later be changed due to “new light.” This is when I began to read the scriptures with a new goal. I read them without taking any of my preconceived notions to see what they said. I read the words without literature of any sort and prayed for Jehovah to give me accurate knowledge.
Therefore I began earnestly to seek God with Bible study and prayer. I would study for days at lunch breaks, at night, and every spare moment. I begged God for His blessing, His power, and His love in my life. What I got out of it was completely unexpected. I was amazed that what I was reading was telling me something completely different from what I previously believed. But later I discovered that the ultimate witness we can offer the world is the love we have for one another, a love that flows from the very heart of God Himself. Conforming to rules and regulations simply can't produce that kind of love relationship. We can try to impose the law on our relationships, but God's love is the only way to gain the stability and security we long for. The Bible tells us that love is the fulfillment of the law. In fact, when asked which was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied that it was to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself. Love, not the law, is the key to our relationship with God and with one another.
God wants us to experience the beauty of being drawn to Him by a cord far stronger than the obligation and guilt of the law. If we were still bound to God by a list of rules and regulations, we would soon find ourselves chomping at the bit and struggling against the restraints. There is a huge difference between being bound in relationship by the joy of love, and being tied up in obligation and guilt.
God never intended that His people be bound by an endless list of external pressures. It isn't pleasing to God to hear us moan and complain, "What a drag! I have to go to the meeting again when there are a hundred other things I'd rather do. But if I don't go, God won't love me anymore and the elders will give me the evil eye for missing his talk."
If we find ourselves laboring under such burdensome attitudes, it is a sure indicator that we are not operating in a love relationship with God, but have instead fallen into legalism. God certainly wants better things for us than a drab, loveless existence!
God never made out a long contract that says, 'Abide by all my terms and I will love you and bless you; but if you violate even the smallest provision, it's all null and void and you are out of My kingdom!" Christians are not bound by any heavy contract to God. Paul declared that the only thing that constrained him was the love of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14).
It took months of God's patient work in my life before I was able to break free of the bondage of self-righteousness. I had heard of others getting a tremendous blessing out of the book of Romans and the book of John. Since I was always looking for a blessing, I finally decided to dig into it. I remember my dad calling me once and asking me what I was doing. I replied, “Reading Romans.“ He said, “Why Romans?“ And yet, try as I might, it was difficult for me to relate to. I decided to persevere anyway and see if I could discover what it was that others found so compelling.
One day as I studied this great book, God did nothing less than revolutionize my relationship with Him. It was there that He revealed to me the meaning of that simple, well-worn, but rarely understood word: grace. From that time onward I encountered such a free and loving relationship with Jehovah that I could not have cared less if I ever saw a spectacular miracle in my ministry. I discovered that even though I was prone to stumble and fall, my mistakes didn't alienate me from God. My relationship with Christ became less a roller coaster of highs and lows and more of a steady ride in His wonderful love.
Imagine how I felt when I discovered the profound truth, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). For years I had labored under the misconception that God was against me. I pictured Him waiting for me to step out of line so He could send fiery judgment crashing down on me. I finally understood that Jehovah wanted me to enjoy the peace of His unconditional love, not the fear that always accompanies legalism. I began to relate to God in a whole new way.
I learned that the law was intended to serve as a protective guide to God's people. Its restraints were to function like a parent's safety guidelines, intended only for the welfare of a child. Once we discover the wonder of God's grace, we need no longer be locked in by the law. We can approach life freely because we love God and won't want to do anything to harm the loving relationship we have with Him. When we know the joy of fellowship with God, we won't want any barriers, any blocks, to come between us.
In fact, the more we experience of God's love, the more He Himself becomes the primary desire and focus of our life. The coercive aspects of the law become unnecessary. We find ourselves longing to please Jehovah simply because we love Him.
And that is the greatest joy in life - to experience a genuine love relationship with Jehovah. To know that He is for us, that He loves us, is the greatest source of security any person will ever know. Discovering the glorious grace of God was one of the most important events in my whole spiritual experience. I learned to relate to Jehovah on an entirely new basis: not on the basis of my works, or of my righteousness, but on the basis of God's love for me through Jesus Christ.
That is grace, and that is what makes life worth living. In fact, it is what makes life - real life, abundant life, fulfilling and satisfying life - possible at all. For when our eyes are opened to the astonishing truth that our relationship with Jehovah does not depend upon the puny pebble of our own efforts but upon the massive rock of His unchanging and loving character, life opens before us in a technicolor explosion of awesome possibilities.
Grace transforms desolate and bleak plains into rich, green pastures. It changes grit-your-teeth duty into loving, enthusiastic service. It exchanges the tears and guilt of our own failed efforts for the eternal thrill and laughter of freely offered pleasures at the right hand of God. Grace changes everything!