How True Christians Serve God
SERVING God, in the eyes of the clergy, means to establish a religious edifice with a cross on its spire, to ring a bell on Sunday and to deliver a sermon on morals or world conditions. To a much larger group, the laity, serving God means merely answering the toll of church bells, sitting in pews and placing “offerings” in collection plates. Other people claim to serve God by secluding themselves behind the austere walls of a monastery, where they absorb themselves in contemplation. Still others believe that living a “clean life” is sufficient to serve God acceptably. Why is Christendom’s picture of Christianity so muddled?
This “broad road” way of serving God stems largely from the fact that Bible-possessing Christendom is not Bible-reading. By its very name Christendom claims Christ as its pattern for living; but its very actions betray double-dealing: “They publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works.” (Titus 1:16, NW) To avoid being guilty of double-faced worship and to illuminate the pathway of true worship, the model God provided must be studied, must be followed. “Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Pet. 2:21, NW) It is not enough to follow Christ’s steps in a loose sense. To follow his steps closely is the only acceptable way of serving God.
Now concerning the Christians’ model, did the Lord Jesus become a monk and hide himself from people? Far from it! Instead of seeking to get away from people he sought to find people! How? Did he establish himself as a resident pastor and invite the public to hear him sermonize on morals, wars and taxes? Not that! Nor did Christ inaugurate pew-sitting or any other passive way of serving God. To the rich young ruler who hoped that merely living a “clean life” was the requisite for inheriting everlasting life, Jesus said: “There is yet one thing wanting about you: . . . come be my follower.” (Luke 18:22, NW) To follow Jesus meant to engage in the same work he did.
When before Pilate, Jesus summed up his life-ruling work: “For this purpose I have been born and for this purpose I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37, NW) As “the faithful and true witness” Christ bore witness to the Source of all truth, Jehovah God. (John 8:40; 17:17, 26) Since Christians must make Christ their model, it becomes apparent that the work of bearing witness to Jehovah and his purposes is not a trifling, optional work that comes with being a Christian. No, it is the Christians’ primary work; hence mandatory.—1 Cor. 9:16; 4:16, NW.
What made bearing witness to the truth so vital? Lives were at stake, the lives of lost sheep. These sheep “are men,” said the Great Shepherd, Jehovah. (Ezek. 34:31) “Sheep without a shepherd” was the phrase Jesus used to describe the people who, though under the shepherding of the Jewish clergy, had not come to know Jehovah. These sheep needed feeding or knowledge, so Jesus “started to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34, NW) Jesus Christ is the “chief shepherd.” (1 Pet. 5:4, NW) All who follow Christ’s steps closely become shepherds too; that is, undershepherds of the “chief shepherd.” After his resurrection, Christ sharply defined the Christians’ chief work when he issued three emphatic instructions to Peter: (1) “Feed my young lambs.” (2) “Shepherd my little sheep.” (3) “Feed my little sheep.” (John 21:15-17, NW) In order to feed and shepherd the little sheep, the Christians must first find them.
METHODS OF HUNTING FOR SHEEP
Searching for sheep, Jesus “went journeying from city to city and from village to village, preaching and declaring the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him.” (Luke 8:1, NW) At appropriate times Christ taught the people right on a city’s thoroughfare. (Luke 13:26) Early Christians found valuable use for this method, as did the apostle Paul. (Acts 17:17, NW) So there was nothing degrading about declaring the good news on public streets. It was a pattern set by Christ and his apostles.
Public sermons were an excellent way to witness to large groups of people. Sometimes Jesus and his undershepherds gave public sermons in synagogues. Often they delivered sermons right out in the open countryside, on the mountainside or on the seashore.—Matt. 4:23; 5:1, 2; 13:1-3.
But the most effective way of hunting for sheep was the house-to-house work. What, preach from door to door? Yes, that is exactly the method inaugurated by our model, the “chief shepherd.” The Master did not consider it beneath his dignity to go from house to house. Why should he? His work was the most important work in the world; so it deserved the most effective means of presentation. Yes, Jesus, who Peter said knew “all things,” certainly knew that the practical way of hunting for sheep was from house to house. To go to the people, to visit them in their homes, this is the unselfish way. Very few Bible readers seem to notice the real nature of Jesus’ work. In the four gospel accounts of his ministry, the words “house” and “home” appear over 130 times, and in the vast majority of the cases they are used in connection with the preaching of Jesus. The “chief shepherd” instructed his undershepherds in house-to-house preaching: “When you are entering into the house, greet the household; and if the house is deserving, let the peace you wish it come upon it.”—Matt. 10:12, 13, NW.
Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, knew the importance of the house-to-house work. He wanted the Christians to “press on to maturity” so that they could teach others even as he did, from house to house. “I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house.”—Acts 20:20; 5:42; 1 Cor. 4:16; Heb. 5:12; 6:1, NW.
It was in private homes then that initial feeding of the sheep took place. When Jesus found people interested in the good news he visited them at their home in order to give extended personal instruction. In this manner, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Zacchaeus and others were built up as true disciples. (Luke 10:38-42; 19:5-9) The early Christians did not consider one visit to a home sufficient; they revisited the sheep, making back-calls: “Paul said to Barnabas: ‘Above all things, let us return and visit the brothers in every one of the cities in which we published the word of Jehovah.’” (Acts 15:36, NW) So the key way to find and feed the sheep was by personal instruction: by initial visits at the home, by making back-calls and by home Bible studies.—Matt. 18:20; Acts 17:11; Gal. 6:6.
But even personal instruction in homes was not enough. After a sheep had been found, that one needed to attend Christian meetings. So important were these meetings that the apostle cautioned all Christians never to fail assembling together. (Heb. 10:25) At these congregational meetings the deep truths of God’s Word were explained; there was encouragement for one another, upbuilding for the entire congregation. (1 Cor. 14:26) At other times Christians assembled for service meetings, where they were trained in the proper method of serving God by preaching the good news. (Luke 10:1-16; Acts 6:1-7) There were also ministry schools for training early Christians in public preaching. (1 Tim. 4:13-15, NW) The prime purpose of all these meetings: to train Christians to teach others!—Eph. 4:11, 12.
TRUE WORSHIP TODAY
How different is Christendom’s way of worship from the pattern set by Christ! We found no pattern for monasticism or pew-sitting. Rather we found that the acceptable way to serve God is by engaging in the work he has commanded to be done. The “chief shepherd” made this work very clear. (Matt. 24:14) Who today are following closely the Christian model by bearing witness to the name of Jehovah? What organization today is proclaiming God’s kingdom as the hope of the world and warning the people of the impending war of Armageddon? There is only one organization doing all this: that is the organization of Jehovah’s witnesses.
Look! in 143 different lands Jehovah’s witnesses are proclaiming the good news, using the same preaching methods inaugurated by the Master himself. You find them giving public sermons in Kingdom Halls and in public places. They declare the good news on public streets, offering passers-by Bible study aids such as the Watchtower magazine. But their chief method of hunting for sheep is through the house-to-house work. They do not consider it undignified; they consider it, as Christ did, the best way, the most loving and effective way of finding and feeding the sheep. Back-calls are made on interested persons and free Bible studies are held in their homes. Jehovah’s witnesses also hold congregational meetings. As with the early Christians, there are instructive service meetings, ministry schools and congregational studies of God’s Word.
The clergy have not gone to the people or brought them the good news of God’s new world. As in Jesus’ day the clergy’s flock are really “sheep without a shepherd.” Now, before Armageddon, all the Lord’s other sheep must be found and gathered into the one fold of the “chief shepherd.” (John 10:16) Long ago Jehovah foretold this work: “Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith Jehovah, and they shall fish them up; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.” (Jer. 16:16, AS) Who will do this work of fishing and hunting for men? Who will sally forth like a shepherd on the hunt for lost sheep? You are invited to respond to the call for fishers and hunters of men, that you may closely follow the Christian model and that the “chief shepherd” may stamp “approved” on your way of serving God by saying: “Come, you who have my Father’s blessing, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the world’s foundation.”—Matt. 25:34, NW.