fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Still Crazy After All These Years

 Still Crazy After All These Years by Julie McAllen

Concerning Jesus…

“You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”   (John 7:20)

The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” …At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death.  (John 8:48, 52)

Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”  (John 10:20)

Concerning the Apostle Paul…

At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” (Acts 26:24)

 Still Crazy After All These Years…

 “In the past, people tended to avoid those who suffered from mood disorders. As a result, many who were afflicted became social outcasts. Some encountered job discrimination. Others were shunned by members of their own family. Often, this only aggravated the problem and prevented those who were ailing from getting help.

In recent decades, however, great strides have been made in understanding clinical depression and bipolar disorder. Now it is well-known that these conditions are treatable. But getting help is not always easy….

The important thing is to reach out and get help. “Many times sufferers are frightened and ashamed of their condition,” … “The real shame, though, is suspecting you have a problem and not seeking the help that you so desperately need.”

I agree with these statements. The article from which they were taken also offered advice that I further support. It encouraged seeking comfort from God’s word the Bible and fellowship with other believers.

“Discerning Christians, therefore, avoid implying that depressed people are responsible for their own suffering. Such remarks would be no more helpful than those offered by Job’s false comforters (Job 8:1-6), and adds, “There is no doubt that by providing meaningful support, family members and friends can play a significant role in a sufferer’s well-being.”

Who wouldn’t agree? This is all very sound advice taken from the January 8, 2004 Awake! magazine published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. I think they tactfully dealt with the topic of mood disorders and I was very encouraged to read it because I have Seasonal depression. It usually begins in mid October with pain in my eyes and a loss of energy. Page 10 of the article noted that one member of the congregation of Jehovah’sWitnesses said, “the depression increases because I feel that my disorder must be a reflection of a lack of spirituality.” And added, “I have learned that depression is an illness that needs to be dealt with. It is not a reflection of my love for God or for my fellow Christians. It is not a true reflection of my spirituality.”

I also learned this lesson. I had become discouraged over the years as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and when the pressure got to me, I walked out in the fall of 2003 not knowing if I’d return. So this particular article was healing to me as I felt the Watchtower Society was addressing something going on in my own congregation. My discouragement had begun a few years earlier when I was reprimanded by an elder for following the Bible’s advice to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” Having grown up with a family member with bi-polar disorder and knowing my own seasonal depression, I was perhaps more sensitive to those in my congregation who were discouraged or depressed. The elder told me to “look out for number one” and reminded me that time spent trying to encourage the sister whom he referred to as “weak” was time I could be spending out in the door-to-door ministry. He had also given a talk on “marking” weak ones in the congregation and taking special precautions in our limited dealings with them. When I concurred that we have to protect our own spiritual standing but asked, “what if that person is so distraught they’re near suicide, you can’t leave a person alone in that condition can you?” His answer was a cold-hearted, “what are you going to do, commit suicide with them?”

I eventually followed orders and fell in line as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses “in good standing” by closing my heart and just performing my duties. Years passed and finally in 2003, I just stopped going to meetings. When I got the article on mood disorders at the start of 2004, I read the advice on pages 12-13 on how the congregation can offer support and was confirmed that I had followed the right course in reaching out to my sister after all….

“The Bible admonishes all Christians to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls” and to “be long-suffering toward all” (1 Thess 5:14) How can you do this? First, it is important to understand the distinction between mental and spiritual illness. For example, the Bible writer James indicated that prayer can make the spiritually indisposed one well. (James 5:14, 15) Nevertheless, Jesus acknowledged that those who are physically ailing need a physician. (Matt 9:12) Of course, it is always right and helpful to pray to Jehovah about any concern, including our health. (Ps 55:22; Phil 4:6-7) But the Bible does not state that increased spiritual activity in itself will cure present medical problems.

Discerning Christians, therefore, avoid implying that depressed people are responsible for their own suffering. Such remarks would be no more helpful than those offered by Job’s false comforters. (Job 8:1-6) The fact is that in many cases depression will not improve unless it is treated medically. This is especially so when a person is severely depressed, perhaps even suicidal. In such cases, professional attention is essential.”

I was being told NOT to speak to this discouraged sister because the elder said she was “spiritually weak.” Yet the article in the magazine that he, along with 6 million others at that time, were distributing door-to-door gave the advice TO SPEAK and TO PRAY, NOT AVOID! It also brought out that expecting increased activity from the individual would not be helpful, yet as any one of Jehovah’s Witnesses know too well their status of “weak” or “in good standing” is based upon the activities of meeting attendance and field service. She was doing less of both and thus labeled as “bad association.”

This incident made me feel insecure because I feared being labeled as “weak” and “bad association” myself if I was in need. How refreshing to read from the pages of the Awake! magazine this advice to the congregation,

“To be of assistance to sufferers, strive to be empathetic. (1 Cor 10:24; Phil 2:4) Try to view matters through the eyes of the sufferer rather than through your own. Do not burden the individual with unreasonable expectations. “When I am accepted for the person I am now,” says Carl, who struggles with depression, “I feel that my sense of belonging is gradually being restored. With the patient help of a few older friends, I have been able to build a closer relationship with God and have found a great measure of joy in helping others to do the same.”

I knew I had been an encouragement to that sister and perhaps the elders attitude toward it was merely a local problem and I could use the article to point out the physical as well as spiritual dimensions of my own depression and hers also.

Knock, Knock!

The elders had made a surprise visit to my home in mid October of 2004 demanding more activity from me with no offer to pray for me. I told them I was building my own relationship with God and found it difficult to go out in service telling others about how wonderful “Jehovah’s organization” was when I myself had begun to doubt that. Two weeks later I received a phone call letting me know of their intentions to disfellowship me which plunged me into a deep depression. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, however, reasoning that perhaps my seasonal depression was affecting my ability to receive corrective counsel so I quoted from the January 8, 2004 Awake! article to plea mercy and asked if we could put the hearings off until spring when I would be more stable in my thinking. They refused. What was my crime and why the hurry? I had begun to talk too much about Jesus.

Instead of speaking consolingly, they put me through an insulting inquisition. Instead of praying for me, they condemned me. On December. 2, 2004 they announced to my “brothers and sisters” that I was an apostate to the faith because I answered “yes” to their question of whether a person could have a relationship with God outside of the Watchtower. And thus I ended that year as a shunned person, one that the Watchtower recently declared as “mentally diseased.”

No one but me had followed the advice of the Awake! magazine yet I was the one called an apostate to the faith?

Where were the “loving and empathetic” elders of whom the sister in the Awake! article said this, “When the elders reassure me of Jehovah’s love, read me passages from God’s Word, the Bible, and speak of Jehovah’s purpose for a paradise of peace and well-being and when they pray with me—even on the telephone—I feel the burden lifting. I know I am not abandoned by Jehovah or by my brothers, and that is a source of strength for me.”

Actions speak louder than words and I discovered in more cases than just this one that the printed material from the Awake! and Watchtower differ from the actions of its leadership. One thing I would like to make aware to the public is that the Watchtower magazine that Jehovah’s Witnesses bring to your door is not the same information they study each week at their meetings. An article published in the July 15, 2011 study edition of The Watchtower warns followers to stay clear of “false teachers” who are condemned as being “mentally diseased” apostates who should be avoided at all costs. It reads, “Suppose that a doctor told you to avoid contact with someone who is infected with a contagious, deadly disease…. you would strictly heed his warning. Well, apostates are ‘mentally diseased’, and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings.”

They do not clarify what these false teachings are however. I learned the hard way that any teaching that does not agree with theirs is considered as false. But I’m in good company because according to them, Jesus Christ also would be considered an apostate to their faith.

To have a mental illness in itself should never be regarded with shame, their own literature pointed that out. In this case, however, the term “mentally diseased” is a supreme insult and many former members are rightly speaking out about it. Active members who are still able to think for themselves are not going to put up with this much longer either.

The July 15, 2011 article intended to inculcate their flock worldwide basically said that those of us who left to follow Jesus Christ are “mentally diseased.” In addition to that, they are told regularly at their meetings that those who have never joined their religion are “worldly” and will be destroyed at Armageddon. They believe that they alone have a channel of communication to God and this information about you and about me is not just from the leadership at Brooklyn, New York, but from Jehovah God himself. Basically, what they are being told is God is displeased with you and me and the only way to be in his favor is if we join the Watchtower so that we too can condemn everyone outside of it. And they call this Christianity????? To stand against this CONTROLLING RELIGION is not insane, it’s HEALTHY.

From the mouth of God straight into the Watchtower magazine for brainwashing amongst the flock: Taken from ‘Will you heed Jehovah’s warnings?’

“Jehovah, the Great Physician, tells us to avoid contact with them. We know what he means, but are we determined to heed his warning in all respects? What is involved in avoiding false teachers? We do not receive them into our homes or greet them. We also refuse to read their literature, watch television programs that feature them, examine their websites, or add our comments to their blogs. Why do we take such a firm stand?
“Because of love. We love ‘the God of truth’, so we are not interested in twisted teachings that contradict his Word of truth.”

Yes, because of love, entire families shun their own who are not able to keep up with the Watchtower’s requirements. I have friends who have been completely cut off from their families and suffer greatly because of it, yes, some of them do fit the description of “mentally diseased” now because of this action. But then, what happened to “by providing meaningful support, family members and friends can play a significant role in a sufferer’s well-being” from the January 8, 2004 Awake! article? Which article will they obey?

In the New World Translation of the Bible which Jehovah’s Witnesses use and make available to the public, Ecclesiastes 7:7  is rendered as “For mere oppression may make a wise one act crazy” and I can vouch that while under their oppression I was crazy.

I entered the ranks of the Watchtower in 1996 at first happily praising God because I thought I had found “the truth,” but by 2004 I was asking the demons to kill me. Insanity? YES!! The confused years that followed were a struggle to regain my mind, but by 2007 the dark cloud of Watchtower oppression left and I totally give credit to the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, the REAL TRUTH in my life.

The Awake! article on page 11 mentioned a woman who found it helpful to keep a daily journal in which she could pour out her feelings. Because we were not allowed to voice our own thoughts in the religion and discouraged from making friendships outside of it, my journal became the safe haven to release my tormented thoughts.  It’s not that I need to go back into that darkness again, but I thought it might be to someone else’s benefit to read selections from my personal journal.

Even in the Bible’s familiar Psalms of anguish, I believe the Spirit of Christ was writing them. I notice this in my own struggles also. At times my pen was seething with anger like a caged beast demanding freedom and then interrupted by a small still voice that said trust God, wait and hope in the promise of rescue not yet understanding how or when it would come about.

I began my study with Jehovah’s Witnesses in March 12, 1996. I was baptized 7 months later to the day on October 12.

February 7, 1997- Sometimes I’m sure I’m gonna bubble over with enthusiasm for the Truth! I can’t believe I’ve been so privileged to be drawn by Jehovah to do His will (John 6:44). It truly does give life purpose and meaning to share the good news with others. No one REALLY knows love until they feel this love (1 John 4:7-10)

After a large assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses I came home and wrote this April 14, 1997: Observation about the Truth to relate to new Bible studies: I realized it along the way and want to get it across to my students. First, you recognize the Bible as being the source of Truth. Then you recognize the organization teaching it and as a whole living by it.

Within 3 1/2 years under the influence of that organization, I wrote in August 1999: My worst fear is not that this system will end, but that I be found among the hypocrites putting faith in one another and our works and not the God of Salvation, Jehovah.

By that December, I questioned the existence of love: God is love. What is love? Love involves discipline. It is not love on the part of a friend if he allows his friend to inject poison in his body. Freedom of choice, then, becomes wicked. True love corrects, directs to a righteous way. It does demand obedience to “a way.” Tolerance, then, is against one way.

God was jealous for me and ready to show me the poison I’d been drinking in the Watchtower. I was about to undergo His discipline which eventually led me to repent of my involvement with the Watchtower.

December 1999: Into the pit. The cold harsh reality of life. So brief. So unimportant. Death so final. To know that there is no true friendship or love. We are essentially greedy and self-centered. We live for our gods or ourselves. But nothing is really truth. Life, all life, will end. Meantime, we live as we choose or make the most of our unfortunate circumstances.

4 years under the influence of “Jehovah’s organization” I was craving love…

March 23, 2000: All that I want. When all is said and done, what we all craved is LOVE. Unconditional. Life presents to us opportunities for praise in our accomplishments, material assets to prove our worth, but we are not really worthy until we believe—really trust—that we were worthy of LOVE. The ones who can believe are truly blessed. No matter how many lies or drugs it takes, we never quench the quest. Don’t make me stop. I’m too weak to believe otherwise. I’d rather believe the lie that LOVE exists. God exists. Life has purpose. I have a right to be here. Don’t take that away, it’s all I got amongst my mountain of things.

Good for nuthin’ slave… Manure is manure. It has value if spread out to nourish vegetation. Other than that, it stinks. Manure is manure. I am of value when used to help other things grow.

2001, five years under the Watchtower influence…

I will cling to whom I trust.

I know you created all things Jehovah. I know you have given me Spirit and Truth.

I know you care, I trust this. But what of earthly love?

I do not recognize love on the part of your servants, only your enemies—

Those clever, clever enemies of Truth

They accept me and love me,

But I can never attain to the divine

Which your imperfect, yet holy servants

Say I must aspire to.

It is a narrow road, perhaps too narrow for me.

And it’s knowing that you will spit me out

That makes it easier to leave.

You require me to cling

And yet if I doubt for a day

I am dust….

Continuing in the Watchtower. Welcome to my nightmare….

June 2002: “Then they shall know I am Jehovah!” When? When He acts violently against this dying system? Isn’t that how we FINALLY make ourselves known? By our violent tantrums as we break free from our enforced cover of purity? Who am I now???!!!!
As I smother every last vestige of myself in a shroud of Christianity, I find myself, yes, anticipating that violent day of proclamation prophesied about Him but it’s also for ME!!! But for what? To live forever in that world I’ve begun to despise by seeing its future inhabitants? There is NO LOVE, only clean, smiling people taught so well to be that way.

Oct 2002
Hate is crippling
I hate so much
where does it come from?
Is it because I’ve left them/it/Him in my heart
or is it because I’ve come to know them/it/Him?

Them/it/Him is Jehovah.
Jehovah is no longer God of course.
Jehovah is THEM: the organization
It: the congregation
Him: God expressed through the Bible

So much would be solved if I could just express myself, but doubt is not allowed.
Already judged
Labeled weak
Do show yourself weak and they will take advantage of you
Protect the children! With what? Religion?
Love is always the answer
Am I capable of defining love?

November 2003
I cling to the hate because if I don’t hate you I have to turn it on myself and I will slit my wrists. You were so mean, so insensitive, so powerful in your damned secure position able to oppress. Of course I am crazy now! You are protected by your position. I am open, naked, exposed and vulnerable. And I am trying to build my walls. I will not stoop so low as to take out this life. You will remain and I too will remain, but I will be honest and I will seek solace and I will not trust those who oppress. If I ask Jehovah to help me forgive and trust I will be vulnerable again.

I knew my anger was protecting me and any thought of forgiveness or love at that stage would just make me vulnerable to the oppressive wolves I discovered in the Watchtower. I went to the meetings and out in service with a smile, but I was gone, gone, gone. All I could do was hate. Free birds don’t like captivity. I was seeking release.

December 2003
One will see Christ’s fire in overturning the tables and make it their calling to expose religious hypocrisy.
One will center on Christ’s outreach to the hungry and set up a food shelter.
Another focuses on healing the sick.
All are ministries inspired by the Son of God.
Still, Truth will motivate others to do the work that indeed he commanded to be done,
“preach the good news of the kingdom.”
Again, a ministry given by the Son of God.

If I were to express my ideas through Christ, you say I have lost Jehovah.
If I were to present my case through Mosaic Law, you will say I have not known the Christ.
I use scriptures to defend my points and you say Satan has quoted them!
I find myself in a lost cause.

Yet I am free,
for I know the Truth
and it has set me free.
Free to expose the hypocrisy
Free to outreach to the hungry and sick
Free to also speak of the kingdom.
Yes, I will be crucified by the leaders for this
but I will be free!
(one year later I was disfellowshiped (crucified) for talking too much about Jesus and not recognizing Jehovah’s organization as his sole channel)

Just prior to their announcement that they intended to disfellowship me, I wrote this in the fall of 2004.
I just wanted to believe in love. Who would it hurt anyway? I just wanted to believe in love. When will the bullet find me? When will I feel the peace, the peace of non existence. To live and not know love is pure hell. This is the place where you love the demons because they will find a way to kill me and I welcome the peace.
There’s still a conscience, it says, “wait!” You can still turn to God. Yes, I can.

Out of all the voices in my head, I tried to listen to that one. It wasn’t easy, but I stuck around to listen.

Later in 2004, I penned

There’s a point at which the dedication to God becomes fused with dedication to the Society. It becomes one and the same. Leave the Watchtower and you have left God. Work for the Watchtower and you are working for God. I remember the subtlety, the encouragement to pioneer—or just “do more.” All the time. Eventually it gets to you. You begin to BELIEVE you don’t love God enough because you’re never DOING enough. You let go of that wonderful Spirit that was leading you to do works through love and begin working for THEM. I remember the feeling. It was the first time I signed up to auxiliary pioneer and it didn’t turn out well. I was “in” at that point. Prior to that I truly felt led by Spirit and I could truly love and minister to others through that love. It was a crossover. Now I’m at the crossroads again. I want to give up THEM. Their interpretation will be that I have “left Jehovah.” But no! It is because I miss Him so much! I wish I could trust that Spirit again. The one that made me work, yes, but through love for God, not obedience to THEM. I still believe in God. But yes, I’ve been confused as to who He is and what it is He really requires from us.

He is Jealous For Me.

In John 2:14-16, Jesus storms into the temple courts with a whip to drive out those elements which do not belong there. Zeal for his Father’s house CONSUMED him!! In seeking the Christ within each of us, there are stages of growth. One of which is this kind of righteous indignation he showed at the temple. I believe my anger and tears were the work of the Holy Spirit overturning the tables and reclaiming the temple of my body. Yes, Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He condemned it and wept. I think it is no different for us. I wept losing my beloved religion, but I also had to be honest and condemn it for what it was.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. (Eph 4:25-27)

Anger is part of speaking truthfully. Jesus proved this. But we do have to be careful that it does not control us and make us worse sinners than those we fight against. The bitterness can fester and thereby give a foothold to the devil. That is why Jesus taught us to pray for and bless those who persecute us. Forgiveness is armor for us, not permission given to them to wipe their feet on our backs. Jesus knows that when we have his Spirit in us, we are powerful in our words and actions. He wants Lordship even in our justified and righteous anger. I have learned to give it to him and use it to glorify him. May God be praised in the fire that motivates those who expose religions that falsely represent him.

Mind Control and Mental Illness

I am grateful for Mental Illness Awareness Week every October. During that time, dedicated volunteers from the National Alliance on Mental Illness use the opportunity to make known their services to help those suffering from chemical imbalance, stress caused by physical, sexual, and emotional abuse including the trauma incurred by those exposed to war. There is a network to those experiencing the post traumatic stress of abuse brought on by mind control also, but it is largely unknown and underground. That is why I feel it is necessary to bring it out from the shadows and into the realm of print this month. There are literally thousands of websites dedicated to helping those affected by cult involvement and mind control. Cults often persuade their members not to search these websites out, but I encourage those who are suffering or know someone who is to begin looking for answers in the interest of their mental health. There is help, there is hope.

During Mental Illness Awareness Week, many newspaper editorials make us aware of the chemical imbalance responsible for mood swings and the treatments available. They also note the effects on the brain from various past abuse and the necessity for counseling through such traumatic experience. We can be grateful for those who research and publish the information. An often overlooked area is spiritual abuse through mind control and how many people do suffer mental illness because it. I believe cult awareness belongs with Mental Illness Awareness and so I am sharing this as my contribution to Mental Illness Awareness Week. Your doctor, no matter how skilled and educated, may not understand the unique struggles you face in overcoming trauma brought on by years of spiritual abuse, but there is help through the many websites dedicated to discussion (group and one-on-one), prayer, and information to help you in your journey toward better mental health. Please begin the search today.

In 1961, Dr. Robert J. Lifton wrote the book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, after studying the effects of mind control on American prisoners of the war under the Communist Chinese. In chapter 22 of his book, Psychiatrist and Professor Robert J. Lifton outlines eight criteria of mind control, whether used by political, religious or psychological cults.

Members of high-demand organizations often experience the gradual narrowing of their thoughts. Their life experiences and future expectations are restricted and reduced to conform with that of the group. When this tendency is combined with an intense belief system that emphasizes the benefits of life in a higher plane of existence, members are more easily influenced to radically commit themselves to behavior they would not otherwise choose which sets up a perfect breeding ground for a mental disposition referred to as cognitive dissonance. Even after years of physically leaving a group and its teachings, the person’s mental health is impaired and they need support and healing.

These are the eight criteria found in Lifton’s study on Thought Reform.

Milieu Control This involves the control of information and communication both within the environment and, ultimately, within the individual, resulting in a significant degree of isolation from society at large.

Mystical Manipulation There is manipulation of experiences that appear spontaneous but in fact were planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders in order to demonstrate divine authority or spiritual advancement or some special gift or talent that will then allow the leader to reinterpret events, scripture, and experiences as he or she wishes.

Demand for Purity The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection. The induction of guilt and/or shame is a powerful control device used here.

Confession Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group. There is no confidentiality; members’ “sins,” “attitudes,” and “faults” are discussed and exploited by the leaders.

Sacred Science The group’s doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or for all humanity, is likewise above criticism.

Loading the Language The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand. This jargon consists of thought-terminating clichés, which serve to alter members’ thought processes to conform to the group’s way of thinking.

Doctrine over person Member’s personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group.

Dispensing of existence The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not. This is usually not literal but means that those in the outside world are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious and they must be converted to the group’s ideology. If they do not join the group or are critical of the group, then they must be rejected by the members. Thus, the outside world loses all credibility. In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected also. (Lifton, 1989)

I am not blaming the Watchtower for anybody’s chemical imbalance which manifests itself as mental illness. But I am not shy about exposing the trauma their oppression has caused in many minds including my own. As their Awake! article pointed out, there is such a thing as spiritual sickness and physical sickness. I still deal with my physical sickness of seasonal depression, but I am joy-filled even through dark days because I know my savior lives and he LOVES me. THAT is what was TAKEN from me as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses–the TRUTH that GOD LOVES ME. It made me insane to keep having to guess if Jehovah would still love me if I missed a meeting or didn’t get my hours in the door-to-door service! Now I know for certainty that God loves me and I will not let mere men oppress me again for it leads to spiritual sickness due to a divided mind that is not WHOLLY dedicated to God. Now that the Watchtower is no longer controlling my mind, I can once again love God with my WHOLE mind, heart, soul and strength. AMEN!!!

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

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October 1, 2011 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Losing my Religion

Losing my Religion by Julie McAllen

I wrote this piece two years ago on a support network for others who lost their religion. It’s a good follow up to last months article “Hand him over to Satan?” and because I’ve been too busy to write this month, it’s easy to cut and paste it here as is!

I was officially banned from my religion on December 2, 2004. To leave one’s religion behind for the sake of Christ is a blessing and I hope my experience blesses you today.

One of my favorite passages is John 9, the story of the blind man healed by Jesus and then thrown out of the synagogue. It is one of those personal “I claim this verse” kinda things ya know? I just love this story because here’s this blind guy, Jesus comes along and heals him without really going into a complete explanation of “hello, I am the Son of God, Jesus Christ, I am the fulfillment of everything you’ve been studying since childhood, blah, blah, blah..” Nope, Jesus just comes along and heals the guy. He’s kept in ignorance, though he’s been shown grace. When the Pharisees question the healed man, his reply changes as he goes…ever notice that?

10″How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded.

11He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

12″Where is this man?” they asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said.

At this stage he only knows others say he is a guy named Jesus and doesn’t even know where he is. He just states that he’s been healed. And they keep making him testify to this (see what a friend we have in doubters? They give us opportunity to testify and build our faith in doing so!)

17Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

Check that out! His faith just grew!

Now they haul in the parents who remain scared of religious authority (because they have not encountered this healing first hand as their son had). The man has to AGAIN explain his experience with this fuzzy, unknown character they call Jesus and all he can do is stand on his little mustard seed of a testimony ….

25He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

This is precious!! He is not debating a bunch of doctrine with the Pharisees, he himself doesn’t know the answers we grapple with as JWs coming out like “is God a trinity? Who are the 144,000? What about the earthly hope?” All he has to go on is an encounter with someone he calls a man, then a prophet, and stands on the fact that he was healed. The interrogation of the Pharisees is what aided his faith to grow in the Son of God who he hasn’t even identified for himself yet! Is that so cool??

So then the poor soul gets kicked out!! We know he was blessed, but at the time he probably felt like a poor, confused soul, Amen? Man, can disfellowshiped people relate to this. He loses his whole life. His religion at the synagogue, his parents, his friends who now snicker at his lack in “giving glory to God” (John 9:24), the respect of the Pharisees who he probably looked up to at one time, his routine, perhaps his link to charity through all these venues, and for what? For a sure faith in Christ? NO!! He doesn’t even realize who he is yet!! Amazing.

But here’s the tear-jerker…gets me every time, thank you Jesus!

35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36″Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

37Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

38Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

Jesus was aware of this guys “disfellowshiping” and He, yes, Jesus Christ himself begins to prompt the questions!!

“Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
“Who is he?” This guy has to ask!

‘Cuse me, I gotta run and get a tissue…..

No really, this is like the most touching passage to me because it reads like my own story. As I sat through the elder’s inquisition I really could not say exactly who Jesus was, I knew I’d miss the respect and companionship I’d gained in the Kingdom Hall, I was scared of that “what now?” feeling of being kicked outside. All I had was a tiny mustard seed of testimony of belief in a man I could not explain. But Jesus knew. Jesus knew. Jesus heard I’d been thrown out and he asked me what I believed about him.

I was blind too, but now I see. Praise God, I see!

It was the falling out of religion that was necessary for me to really fall in love with Christ. Just as that man’s faith stepped up a notch during the interrogation of the Pharisees, likewise it was during my hearings that I understood they were putting themselves on the throne of God. It was fuzzy before that, but I thank Jehovah for those trials now. He let them show me who they were and I knew they were false prophets. I know it even more so now.

Fallen out of the religion, tired of anger, tired of the debates, just needing his love, I was ready. And it was as I was reading John 9 that Jesus really began speaking to me and revealed His true nature as the Shepherd plain as day in the next chapter. Jehovah Rohi, the Lord is my Shepherd!!

 Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

November 29, 2010 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , | Comments Off on Losing my Religion

   

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