“Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life; and we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” –John 6:68-69
So answered Peter when asked by Jesus whether he wanted to abandon him along with others who had found his teachings untenable.
Time and again this scripture is used in the Society’s publications to reinforce the seemingly hopeless consequences for any who choose to turn their backs on the organization. Take as an example the following experience, quoted in the February 15th 2006 Watchtower on page 30:
“Accepting a change when it comes and adapting to it can be difficult,” admits one longtime elder. What has helped him accept the many refinements he has witnessed in the 48 years that he has been a Kingdom proclaimer? He answers: “Having the right attitude is the key. Refusing to accept a refinement is to be left behind as the organization moves ahead. If I find myself in a situation where changes seem hard to accept, I reflect on Peter’s words to Jesus: ‘Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.’ Then I ask myself, ‘Where shall I go away to—out there into the darkness of the world?’ This helps me to hold firmly to God’s organization.”—John 6:68.
The message is simple: as organizational and doctrinal refinements are introduced, one should accept these unflinchingly without question – because after all, there is nowhere else to go beyond the confines of the organization. Indeed, any who doubt the Society or Governing Body are portrayed as being just as disloyal and fickle as those who left Jesus because they were shocked when he asked them to figuratively drink of his blood and eat of his flesh. –John 6:52-56
Perhaps you have pondered on this scripture after successfully uncovering the wealth of evidence that the Society is actually NOT God’s spirit-directed organization after all. You may feel that the same words spoken by Peter apply to you and your interraction with the Watch Tower Society. If that is the case, please be assured that you are NOT in a similar situation whatsoever, and that Peter’s words (and, indeed, the question posed by Jesus) in no way apply to your predicament.
“You have sayings of everlasting life”
When Peter spoke the above words, the last thing on his mind was any question of leaving an ‘organization’ of any kind. Jesus, and no human organization, was the one with sayings of everlasting life. (John 17:3) Peter had listened to Jesus’ words, and had come to the conclusion that he was the foretold Messiah, the “Holy One of God”. The last thing he wanted to do was separate himself from being a follower of God’s chosen one, simply because he had spoken rather cryptically on an issue that few were able to comprehend at the time.
Since Christ’s ascension to heaven, it has naturally been impossible to physically walk with Jesus as mere mortals. However, we can all individually remain his footstep followers by living our lives according to Christian principles without the need to attach ourselves to a human organization – particularly one that distorts the words of Christ to suit its own ends and perpetuate its legacy. – John 10:27; Acts 20:28-30
If you have succeeded in uncovering the overwhelming evidence that God is NOT directing the Watch Tower Society, then this does not necessarily mean that you have abandoned Christ – nor does it mean that you should. If anything, your relationship with Christ can be strengthened by having a direct and personal relationship with him, and not relying on the Society, or any human organization, to act as your intermediaries in a “two-tier” version of Christianity.*
“Whom shall we go away to?”
Even so, many who consider the prospect of turning their backs on the organization feel more than a little apprehension at the thought of simply walking away from the familiar surroundings of the Kingdom Hall, not to mention their former acquaintances. It is perfectly understandable to feel anxious about the transitional period between the inevitable shunning by former associates (as I have learned for myself, you will always be shunned to some degree, even if you remain as an ‘inactive’ one), and the challenge of finding new friends who will value you for who you are, rather than what you believe. Faced with this prospect, many may well ask, “where will I go?” or “whom will I be friends with?”
The late Ray Franz, a former member of the Governing Body, put it most eloquently when he said (on leaving the organization): “I feel no need to ‘go’ anywhere. For I know the One who has the ‘sayings of everlasting life.’ I appreciate the strengthening companionship of those I have with whom to associate (either personally or by correspondence) and hope that the future will add to my acquaintance with yet other sincere persons whose concern is for truth, not simply in doctrine, in words, but as a way of life.” (Crisis of Conscience, p406)
I can personally echo those words. In the relatively short period since I made my own decision to become inactive and distance myself from the organization, I have not only made friends who are like-minded – I have also regained family members whom I was previously snubbing because they themselves had drifted away years before. The Society would have us believe that everyone beyond the confines of the organization is a vicious and rabid “world-ling”; hell-bent on pursuing their own selfish agendas. The reality could not be further from the truth. Only when you start to look do you realize that nice, genuine people surround you in all walks of life, and any of them would make a fine friend. Sure, there are always the ‘rotten apples’ (as indeed there are inside the organization) but you will certainly be surprised at how many honest, sincere people there are out there once you take the time to look.
It’s never easy embracing change. In many ways, it goes against the grain of who we are. We humans crave familiarity and comfort. Drastic transition never sits well with any of us. However, this does not make change impossible. No matter where you go, or who you end up being friends with in the future, you will always have Christ with you as a friend. The benefits of having him as your personal mediator far outweigh the superficial and conditional relationships that you have experienced within the organization. Furthermore, you will be surprised how many people there are out there who will love and accept you for who you are, and not based on whether you are putting hours in each month.
If you need further help with finding the courage to make new friendships, you need only contact any of us on JW Struggle, and we will be happy to assist in any way we can.
The above article by Cedars first appeared on www.jwstruggle.com