Many Jehovah’s Witnesses upon finding that the “truth” wasn’t as true as they thought find themselves spiritually disorientated. They may not know what to believe. As a JW they perhaps thought of themselves as spiritually mature, but now have been disabused of that idea.
The Society talks often about the need to advance to spiritual maturity. The truth of the matter is although they give lip service to the idea of all witnesses advancing to spiritual maturity they actively work against it. The “FDS” tries to maintain JWs as spiritual infants not spiritually mature adults. They want the average publisher to look to the Society for all things spiritual. They discourage independent thought and deep bible study that doesn’t consult the publications. They would like all witnesses to think that there is no possible relationship with God or Christ without them. They promote the idea that if one has a good relationship with the organization or enjoys service privileges in the congregation, then one enjoys a close relationship with God. They want to be the one who determines what a good relationship with God is and who has it.
All this has made for an unhealthy spiritual condition among many Jehovah’s Witnesses. Instead of helping the publishers to become spiritual adults capable of making good decisions without help from men, the organization has created a group of Christians that are perpetually dependent on them. They are spiritual babes. Therefore if their relationship with the organization ends, many JWs find themselves feeling very alone and lost and sometimes are swept away with teachings such as evolution. Or perhaps they give themselves over to immoral conduct.
The goal of the spiritual shepherd should always be to help others to spiritual adulthood. He doesn’t want to foster in his flock an unhealthy dependence on himself. Note what the responsibility of the spiritual helpers would be -“11 And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, 12 with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ, 13 until we all attain to the oneness in the faith and in the accurate knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of stature that belongs to the fullness of the Christ; 14 in order that we should no longer be babes, tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in contriving error. 15 But speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-15)
If a teacher or an organization keeps letting the flock know “You need us! You can’t follow Christ without our help”, that organization or teacher wants to keep its adherents as spiritual children and not adults capable of distinguishing right from wrong.
Some Christians like to be told what to do. In this way they are saved from thinking to much or agonizing over difficult questions that we are all faced with. It is much easier to simply show up on Sunday morning and one evening during the week and Saturday morning for a couple hours and have the belief that all is well in our relationship with God. Others realize this type of mechanical worship is basically worthless. God is searching hearts and delights in those who truly love him and their fellowman. Among Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as among every other denomination you will find those who are “going through the motions” and also those who have a have a strong love for God and Jesus. This is to be expected as the “weeds and wheat” have not been separated.
A great step forward in advancing to christian maturity would be letting go of a sectarian spirit. Many JWs and ex-JWs find it difficult to fellowship with Christians from other denominations because of prejudices they were taught in the Kingdom Hall against all other Christians that aren’t JWs. Some would argue that the churches are full of “worldly” Christians, and others who simply show up on Sunday morning and the rest of the time they live their life as they please. It is true that you will find those who fit that description, but we shouldn’t let that discourage us because that is the way it was in the first century also. The “weeds” have always been a part of the Christian congregation.
Philippians 2: 20,21 “20For I have no one else of a disposition like his who will genuinely care for the things pertaining to YOU. 21 For all the others are seeking their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus”
3 John 9,10 “9 I wrote something to the congregation, but Di·ot´re·phes, who likes to have the first place among them, does not receive anything from us with respect. 10 That is why, if I come, I will call to remembrance his works which he goes on doing, chattering about us with wicked words. Also, not being content with these things, neither does he himself receive the brothers with respect, and those who are wanting to receive them he tries to hinder and to throw out of the congregation.”
Philippians 1:15-17 “15 True, some are preaching the Christ through envy and rivalry, but others also through goodwill. 16 The latter are publicizing the Christ out of love, for they know I am set here for the defense of the good news; 17 but the former do it out of contentiousness, not with a pure motive, for they are supposing to stir up tribulation [for me] in my [prison] bonds.”
In the first century there were insincere troublemakers, fakers who pretended to serve Christ out of selfish motives. We only need read Jesus letter to the first-century Christians in Rev. chap 2 and 3 to see that there were immoral people, materialistic people, etc. But Jesus did not command the faithful ones to separate themselves from all other Christians and make their own church. He tells them to endure. We should not expect anything different today. There are greedy, immoral, materialistic etc. Christians in every denomination just as there were in the first-century. But there are also faithful, pure hearted ones in every denomination. There is no need to judge these faithful ones if they believe some different doctrines than we do. We can be sure that God values a pure heart full of love for Him over a keen intellect able to detect untrue doctrines.
So let us all examine ourselves and help each other continue to “press on to maturity” (Heb. 6:1). Let us not use our newfound Christian freedom as an excuse to do whatever we want, but let us use it to show that we are full grown men and women worthy of the trust of our Master.