Answering a knock on the door last Saturday morning, I found what were almost certainly two Jehovah’s Witnesses standing on the doorstep. Either that, or two people who needed help having broken down outside my house, whilst on their way to a funeral.
My guess is that they were father and son. The lad was probably thirteen or so. Their opening question was something like, “Do you believe that there is life after death?” From the nature of the question, I guessed they could still have been on their way to that funeral, but I was fairly convinced that they were indeed from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Or the Joses Witnye, as one of my sons used to call them, when he was not much more than a toddler.
“Do I believe that there is life after death? Yes, I certainly do!” I replied. They expressed polite encouragement and surprise that here, at least, was a person of faith in God. We had quite a comfortable chat, really, listening well to one another and offering plenty of respect. We didn’t get into any serious dogma or even theological nuances, and exchanged invitations to visit each other’s places of worship before shaking hands and saying goodbye.
Whilst father and son went off to knock on my neighbour’s door, I prayed. I do feel the necessity to ask for God’s cleansing and protection after encounters like this, however pleasant or congenial they appear to have been. And I was intrigued by three scriptures that I immediately found myself reflecting on.
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
“Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”” Matthew 17:4
“They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”” Luke 24:32
Why these three scriptures? Well, whatever our theological differences, what always makes me sad when I encounter JWs is just how clinical, systemised, almost robotic, their 'gospel' is. It's as though they believe you can plug into some training, some instruction, some principles, some theories, and use this as a manual for what to believe and how to live. I even find this with some ‘mainstream’ Christians as well. Now I love order, and can provide ample evidence as to the amazing amount of structure and peace God has mercifully crafted in my life, out of my confusion and dysfunctionality.
But that’s only half the story. He hasn’t brought me into a system, but into a relationship. A relationship with the Son of God Himself. We walk together, talk together, agree together. We trust one another. We laugh together and we cry together. We like being with one another. He has brought so much peace and order to my heart. And yet that relationship can sometimes be turbulent, as the twelve disciples could testify. And at times, it is meant to be. It is dynamic, as in dynamite. It’s not just all about me and my well-being. There is work to be done. There is a Kingdom at stake, and He has a plan. “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Just when I have finished combing every hair precisely into the place I think God wants it to be, then the Holy Spirit comes and tousles it all up again.
I’ve often chuckled at Peter’s reaction to when Jesus was transfigured. When Jesus’ face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light, and while Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus, surely Peter would fall on his face and lavishly worship God in the face of this little taste of heaven itself? No. Rather than enjoying the glorious chaos, he suggests building them some sheds! He was one of the more wacky disciples, but right now, even he just looked awkward, odd, and out of place, and attempted to run back into his comfort zone of structure, order and correctness. We are very keen on singing about The King of Glory, 'who turns our chaos back into order’, but not so keen on stepping out of our orderliness in the face of His chaos. Sometimes, just sometimes, we can be a little too clinical for our own good.
And the third scripture that came to my mind was what the disciples said when they had encountered the risen Lord Jesus on the road to Emmaus. “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” It’s our hearts that need to be impacted by the Word of God, not just our intellect.
So “Yes and amen!” to the scriptures that talk about God’s order coming into our lives. “God... has made an everlasting covenant with me, ordered in all things, and secured. For all my salvation and all my desire, Will He not indeed make it grow?” (2 Samuel 23:5). “All things must be done properly and in an orderly manner” (I Corinthians 14:40). “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains” (Titus 1:5).
But please don’t kid yourself that God always lives in a nice neat ordered box. Or shed. Sorry Peter.
...started leading churches at the age of 18. With a team in the 1980's, planted eight churches in UK and Belgium. Has been teaching and training churches ever since.