“Rise Up to the Opportunities”
THIS letter to the Youngstown, Ohio, Vindicator was published December 11, 1955:
“There seems to be a continual beseeching from the pulpits of the Protestant clergy to their flocks, to exert themselves more towards Bible reading. How nice! But it is evident that is as far as it goes. The evidence is that very few Christians read their Bible, because they really don’t understand them.
“I am well aware of the facts and figures proving that more Bibles are sold annually than any other book. However, are they honestly being read? If not, why not? Because to the very large majority, Bible reading becomes boring and weary due to many passages which require explanation that the average Christian can seldom find unless he seeks out his pastor. This of course he would hardly do because his pastor is usually attending to other businesses and just wouldn’t have the necessary time. Besides, what is Sunday school for? The usual average twenty-five minutes allotted for such study could hardly be called ample towards giving to understand this book.
“I write this in defense of those so-called quasi Christians who would become better ones if Bible instruction time were made available to them.
“Being a layman I’m sure that I know the feelings of these so called flocks much better than do their pastors. Putting it mildly, our Protestant ministers would be amazed at how most of their people yearn for more such understanding. The answer could be in organizing a competent body that would teach the Bible perpetually and not just five or six weeks out of one year.
“So it will take money. Should people be offered such an opportunity of study, the monetary support they may offer in return could be surprising. It or anything similar should at least be tried.
“I, for one, am tired of listening to a lot of negatives as regards the laxity of the layman towards his Bible and other things. Most all Protestant clergymen have had wonderful training and because of it more is expected of them than of the laity. Why then don’t they themselves rise up to the opportunities that may even be their responsibilities? [Signed] A Christian.”
This letter mixed with appeal and complaint merits careful thought. He says the average person needs help to understand what he reads in the Bible. That is true, for when Philip the evangelist saw the Ethiopian official reading Isaiah and asked if he understood what he read the Ethiopian replied: “Really how could I ever do so, unless someone guided me?”—Acts 8:31, NW.
Philip took time, then and there, to guide him in his study. That is the first business of a minister; other business is secondary. Did not Jesus emphasize this work of spiritual feeding when he asked Peter three times if he loved him? And when Peter answered yes three times Jesus’ response was “Feed my young lambs,” “Shepherd my little sheep,” “Feed my little sheep.”—John 21:15-17, NW.
As the letter of “A Christian” says, so-called quasi Christians would be better ones if instruction time were made available to them. It is made available, but from another source. From Jehovah’s witnesses, who, like Philip, will take the time to study with any who desire to learn more about what they read in the Bible. It is not a chore for the witnesses, but a pleasure, for they agree with Jesus’ view: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” Much happiness comes when receiving the truth, but more results from giving it to others.—Acts 20:35, NW.
“I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah.” Jehovah himself sends this famine among his professed worshipers because they have been so negligent of their godly duties that even what little truth they had is taken from them. So no wonder people in these negligent religious systems yearn for spiritual food and drink. To seek for sustenance in those systems is to seek in vain. If those who realize their spiritual need seek its fulfillment elsewhere they will become happy: “Happy are those who are conscious of their spiritual need.”—Amos 8:11, AS; Matt. 5:3, NW.
The writer of the letter asks for perpetual teaching of the Bible, not just five or six weeks out of the year. Jehovah’s witnesses offer teaching regularly, going to homes to conduct Bible studies one night a week, for a year or more. “So it will take money,” the writer says, and expresses willingness to pay. Oddly enough, it takes money to get false teaching, but none to get true spiritual food: “Ho! everyone that is thirsty, come to the waters, and he that has no money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy grain without money, and wine and milk without price! Why should you spend money for what is not bread, and your earnings for what does not satisfy? If you but listen to me, you shall eat what is good, and shall delight yourselves with rich nourishment. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, that you may live!” There is no charge for the teaching services of Jehovah’s witnesses. They obey the words of Jesus: “You received free, give free.”—Isa. 55:1-3, AT; Matt. 10:8, NW.
The clergy are asked to rise up to their opportunities and responsibilities. Through Isaiah Jehovah said they would not: “My watchmen are all of them blind, without any sense; they are all of them dumb dogs, that cannot bark, but lie down dreaming, loving to slumber. And the dogs are greedy, they cannot be satisfied—such are shepherds who have no intelligence—they have turned all of them to their own way, each without exception to his own gain.” Jesus said that because of their teaching tradition instead of truth they did not enter the kingdom themselves and kept others out. The traditional creeds are contrary to the Bible, and the clergy oppose the people’s studying the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses. After telling these religious leaders, “You have made the word of God invalid because of your tradition,” Jesus counseled his followers: “Let them be. Blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”—Isa. 56:10, 11, AT; Matt. 15:6, 14, NW.
The writer called for the clergy to rise up to their opportunities. We call for spiritually hungry persons like the writer to rise up to theirs. Jesus said: “Look! I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his house and take the evening meal with him and he with me.” When Jehovah’s witnesses stand at your door and knock remember Jesus’ words to his witnesses: “He that receives you receives me also.” And, “Where there are two or three met together in my name, there I am in their midst.” That is now the way to have a spiritual meal with Christ. That is your opportunity. And your responsibility.—Rev. 3:20; Matt. 10:40; 18:20, NW.