“My Load Is Light”
1. How do Christendom’s supporters think of one’s becoming a footstep follower of Jesus?
MOST people in the world take the course of least resistance, and they follow the way of the great majority, which leads into sin and eventually death and annihilation. Some think that being a Christian is a very difficult task, and greater than they can bear in this wicked world. Many do not mind being “Christians,” so called, of Christendom, where they can practice all the self-indulgences, carrying on the lusts of the flesh as Christendom approves; and they feel that they are doing all right. But to be a real Christian, one who is walking in the footsteps of Christ Jesus, is considered in the minds of most people a hard thing to do. But how can we harmonize the supposedly difficult task of being a Christian with the expression of Christ Jesus, who said: “My load is light”? Let us see what Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and become my disciples, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.”—Matt. 11:28-30, NW.
2, 3. (a) What does Jehovah require of his dedicated servants? (b) How did Jesus himself comply with that requirement and arrange for others to do so?
2 Just what does Jehovah God require us as Christians to do? As we examine the Scriptures we find that the first thing is to preach the Triumphant Kingdom message throughout all the world for a witness to all nations. All people are able to talk in some language and express their feelings and their thoughts. And if one has a real, deep feeling of devotion to Jehovah God and has the mind of Jehovah as expressed in his Word, then he will preach good news to others. This in itself certainly is not a difficult task. Those of mankind who have been toiling and slaving in the Devil’s organization and have made themselves slaves to it Jesus invites to leave their loaded-down condition and come to him and be refreshed. Jesus does not ask you to take the yoke upon yourself and do all the work alone. The marginal rendering of this expression “Take my yoke” says, “Get under my yoke with me.” In other words, pull the same load and do the same thing that Jesus did when he was upon the earth. His assigned work was to preach to the lost sheep of Israel and get them in line for the blessings of God’s kingdom. Not only Jesus himself did such preaching but he sent his disciples out to the villages to preach the good news of the Kingdom. At his feet he wanted them to become learners of Jehovah’s purposes and then to tell them out on every occasion.
3 In reading the life of Christ in the four Gospels we do find that Christ was a mild-tempered person, lowly in heart; and all those who came to him found refreshment for their souls. The sick, on being healed, were anxious to tell what happened; and for his immediate followers the only responsibility he placed upon them was to preach, to talk to others and bring them comfort. He told them to go from house to house, from village to village, from city to city, from country to country. And this great expansion work of going to non-Jews from country to country began seven years after Jesus began his preaching. First of all the message was to go to the Jews to give them full opportunity to hear the divine message; and this message was presented in a most simple manner, merely by a speaking program. Certainly that yoke was kindly. It was not a heavy load placed upon anyone.
4. Where does the difficulty arise in being a Christian preacher?
4 Well, where does the difficulty arise in being a Christian? Certainly it is not the preaching that is difficult. It is the opposition that the Devil brings up against those mild-tempered and lowly in heart who do the work that Jesus has assigned to Christians to do. Jesus warned us that the opposition would be intense, but the work that he gave Christians to do would be light. It would not be a heavy load, more than they could bear. In his sermon on the mount Jesus said: “Happy are the pure in heart, since they will see God. Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God’. Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them. Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every kind of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.”—Matt. 5:8-12, NW.
5, 6. (a) Who now comprise opposers of the preachers of Jehovah’s Kingdom message? (b) How do those preachers regard that opposition?
5 Jesus, describing conditions that would exist in the earth in these last days when this good news of the Kingdom should be preached, says concerning Christians: “But before all of these things people will lay their hands upon you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, you being haled before kings and governors for the sake of my name. It will turn out to you for the purpose of a witness.” (Luke 21:12, 13, NW) All this persecution comes from the Devil’s crowd because Christians are doing a good thing, giving Jehovah exclusive devotion. Just because you go about peacefully preaching the good news, which directs the attention of people to the Sovereign Ruler of the universe and to true worship, the Devil with his demons and his whole organization will oppose you. So, then, we see the thing that is hard is the stand we must take against the Devil and persecutors whom he raises up against human creatures for being faithful to God. The Devil has always been a cruel taskmaster, but Jehovah God through his Son Christ Jesus has given us a work not difficult to do. It is merely to preach. It is this kind, simple Kingdom truth that we bring to people that the Devil objects to. The communistic nations, the democratic nations, the religionists, the politicians, the commercialists, all object to the persistent earth-wide heralding of God’s wonderful triumphant kingdom for the blessing of all mankind. The objectors do not want it! They are opposed to God’s kingdom. But despite all the opposition that comes against Jehovah’s witnesses they move forward in greater numbers and with greater zeal than ever before in carrying out exclusive devotion to the Sovereign Ruler, Jehovah. They are dedicated to God for doing this service.
6 They know by experience that Jesus’ words are true: “My load is light.” They also know that if they take up this load and get under the yoke with Christ Jesus they are going headlong into opposition from the Devil’s organization. But despite the opposers’ activity, Jehovah’s witnesses in the year 1955 have had the grandest field-service report ever offered in honor of Jehovah’s name and in defense of his Word. They have been bringing the “whole tithe” into the treasure house of God, and he has opened up the windows of heaven and poured out a blessing till there was no place for it. (Mal. 3:10, Da) Each year Jehovah’s witnesses recount the blessings that Jehovah has bestowed upon them by sending in a report, which indicates the joy and pleasure they have had in preaching this good news of the Kingdom. (See chart for activity of Jehovah’s witnesses in different parts of the world.)
HIGH LIGHTS OF 1955 SERVICE REPORT
7. World-wide, how many shared in this preaching work in 1955?
7 During the field-service year of 1955, ending with the month of August, there was an average of 570,694 ministers preaching the good news of the Kingdom in 158 lands. This is an increase of 44,770 more than in 1954; or an 81⁄2 per cent increase in the average number of persons going out in the field service monthly, talking to others concerning the Kingdom. Many newly interested individuals began preaching for the first time, and this brought the peak of publishers up to 642,929 for the 1955 service year.
8. What added blessings from Jehovah did many of those preachers share during 1955?
8 One of the great joys of the year was the bountiful blessing Jehovah poured out upon his servants during the “Triumphant Kingdom” Assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses. In the thirteen conventions held during ten weeks there were 403,682 in attendance at the public lecture. But what brought greater joy to the hearts of all those who have dedicated themselves to Jehovah God was that 13,016 “other sheep” were baptized during the ten-week period. Throughout the entire service year many more persons were determined to give Jehovah God exclusive devotion; and in the twelve months of the year 63,642 individuals were baptized by complete water immersion, declaring themselves to take on the light load of preaching this good news. This places responsibility upon those already associated with the New World society for years, and that is to train these new ones and bring them on to maturity and help them see their privilege of being regular congregation publishers as well as advancing into pioneer service and special assignments as missionaries in other parts of the earth.
9-12. (a) What features of the report concerning full-time preachers are noteworthy? (b) Concerning literature distribution? (c) Concerning other increases in 1955?
9 Today there are 17,011 full-time ordained ministers working throughout the world. To these ranks there could be added many more; and the Society confidently hopes that those who can arrange their affairs to get into the full-time ministerial activity will do so, for in this field there is an abundant blessing. A slight decrease in the number of pioneers has appeared during 1955 service year, there being 254 fewer full-time ministers than in 1954. We sincerely hope that this becomes reversed during the 1956 service year, and that many more will feel confident that Jehovah will open up the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing greater than the pioneers can contain, even as he is doing for all of his servants in overflowing measure. All of these ministers not only preach the good news from house to house and conduct Bible studies, but leave printed sermons with the people in the form of Bibles, books, booklets and magazines, as well as tracts and other publications that will aid a person to gain a clear understanding of what Jehovah’s purposes are in these last days.
10 During the year 2,927,062 bound volumes were distributed along with 27,941,465 pamphlets. In addition to this, 36,500,383 individual copies of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines were distributed from house to house world-wide in forty different languages. New subscriptions to the number of 1,008,221 were taken for these two magazines, which shows the intense interest on the part of the general public in the message Jehovah’s witnesses have.
11 There is a way in which each individual can show God that he loves him and wants to worship him; and this way is by staying close to Jehovah’s organization, bringing in the tithes to the storehouse, which includes attending meetings, giving comments, going from house to house preaching, carrying on back-call and Bible study activity in the homes of the people, attending public meetings and making what material contributions can be made to the organization to advance the Kingdom interests locally and world-wide. Surely Jehovah’s witnesses have been doing this in 1955. Throughout the world there are now organized 16,044 congregations where regular studies are held; and these congregation publishers who have been attending such meetings spend much time, in addition to worshiping in the Kingdom Halls, in their going from house to house preaching the good news. In fact, 85,832,250 hours were spent in house-to-house, village-to-village, city-to-city, country-to-country preaching even including iron curtain countries that strenuously object to the work of Jehovah’s witnesses. And when interested people were found, back-calls were made to the extent of 27,143,319, and eventually these turned into Bible studies numbering 337,456 home Bible studies conducted every week throughout the year in the many languages that the missionaries and publishers of the Kingdom speak. There is very marked interest in the work Jehovah’s witnesses are doing, because at Memorial time, April 7, 1955, 878,303 persons gathered at Kingdom Halls and celebrated the death of Christ Jesus; and, of these, 16,815 profess to be of the “little flock.”
12 So the work of Jehovah’s witnesses goes on grandly. Jehovah’s blessing is truly upon his New World society. And when we look back over the past ten years we see what prosperity Jehovah has brought to his people. In 1945 there was an average of 127,478 publishers sharing in the preaching work. But today we have an average of 570,694.
13, 14. What effects of the steadily increasing distribution of magazines and other Watch Tower publications offset religious critics’ claims?
13 As we compare accomplishments of 1955 with previous years we find it is away ahead of any other year in announcing the triumphant kingdom. Because of the success of Jehovah’s witnesses many religionists have accused the Watch Tower Society of being a book-selling organization. But when one looks over the annual report of the Society surely he can see that all those who have devoted themselves to the interests of the Kingdom are ordained ministers, interested in preaching and in placing in the hands of the people things that will bring blessings to them. And so the printed sermons that are published in the Watchtower magazine, the books and the booklets that are distributed in great numbers, have brought untold comfort to the hearts and minds of the people. In order to keep up with the demand on the part of the public for the message that Jehovah’s witnesses are bringing them, it has been necessary to print 86,590,360 magazines—The Watchtower and Awake!—and 46,792,097 Bibles, books and booklets, world-wide. These publications could never be printed in such large quantities were it not for the contributions made by Jehovah’s witnesses themselves to the Society.
14 It should be kept in mind that thirty years ago the Watch Tower magazine was being offered at a dollar contribution for a year’s subscription. Then came the “depression” and “inflation” and today’s “world prosperity” with great increases in costs of paper, ink, machinery and building; but still, after all these years have passed with stupendous changes in the world, the Watchtower magazine is being offered to the people at one dollar a year for a subscription, twenty-four copies. If it were not for the generosity of Jehovah’s witnesses in supporting the printing of these sermons, this extensive distribution could never be accomplished. Furthermore, if it were not for the zeal and the devotion that all of these witnesses are giving to Jehovah God, this distribution could never be reported here. It is their labor of love that makes it possible for the New World society to put the literature out in such tremendous quantities.
15. How do Jehovah’s devoted servants regard their preaching responsibilities?
15 To do this work is a joy to the heart of every one of Jehovah’s servants; and they fully agree with Christ Jesus when he said: “My load is light.” Our work is to preach this good news of the Kingdom. The Devil’s organization, the archenemy of Jehovah God, is trying to make this work very difficult and tries to throw every obstacle in its way that he can to slow it down or turn God’s servants away from true worship. In this he will fail, for in the end all persons who gain eternal life will give to Jehovah God exclusive devotion. He will be alone in the universe as the Sovereign Ruler, even as he is now, only with opposition. In that new world of righteousness all the opposition of Satan the Devil and his demons, and all those who side with him, will be destroyed, annihilated, moved out of existence; and there will remain true worshipers in the entire earth, all giving to God exclusive devotion. Jehovah puts the test to every one today. Are you willing to meet the test?—namely, “Bring the whole tithe into the treasure-house, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah of hosts, if I open not to you the windows of the heavens, and pour you out a blessing, till there be no place for it.”—Mal. 3:10, Da.
[Chart on page 24-26]
1955 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLD-WIDE
(See bound volume)