Lesson 8 in my Jehovah’s Witness “Bible study” with my JW friend “Craig” is on the topic “You Can Be Jehovah’s Friend.” We’re going through the book Enjoy Life Forever together, and Craig told me that he had invited another of his elders (goodness, how many elders does that little congregation need?), but that the elder could not make it, and had cancelled out on the day of. So it was only Craig and I.
We went through most of the lesson, and I held back until near the end to drop my truth bomb. We talked about Abraham, how that God told him to leave his home and head for a not-yet-revealed destination. I talked about Abraham’s amazing trust in that moment, and his lapses of trust later on. In section 5 Craig asked my why Jehovah asks us to make changes, and my answer was “for our own good.” We talked about how Jehovah can help us, his friends, and how we can communicate with him. Craig asked me “How does Jehovah communicate with us?”, expecting me to give the answer “through the Bible” as in the lesson. My answer was “through the Bible, directly to us as we pray, through circumstances, and through other trusted believers.” (These are the 4 main points of the Bible study Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby: God speaks through The Bible, Prayer, Circumstances, and the Church. I highly recommend that study; I’ve gone through it 3 times.)
Up to this point nothing was very controversial, until . . .
Until I went off script.
After all this, I told Craig that I had a question. My question was, “Above and beyond being friends with Jehovah, I believe I have experienced being adopted by Jehovah as his son, as taught in Romans 8. Have you experienced being adopted as Jehovah’s son?”
Craig gave me a half-hearted “I think so,” as though he were thinking about it while trying to give me an answer. JW’s believe (as they are taught) that adoption as sons and daughters, along with many other blessings or “kingdom privileges,” is reserved for only the anointed 144,000 believers. I gushed about the experience. “It’s fantastic!” I said. “I can call him Dad, like it says in Romans 8, “Abba, Father.” I continued to talk about John 1, where it says that to as many as have received him (Jesus) he gave the right to be legally declared adopted sons of God. I talked about until I felt it was enough, but not so much to shut him down. Then we finished up the lesson’s summary points in a friendly manner. When we got the the final question “Do you think Jehovah expects too much of his friends?” I said, “Well, yes and no. He expects perfection, as Jesus said, ‘Be perfect and your Father in heaven is perfect.’ But God also gives us his presence by his Holy Spirit, enabling us to obey him. He keeps working on us, never giving up on us, even when we fail.” Craig seemed agreeable about that. (I think there’s a lot he hasn’t thought through fully. Which I think God is using in our favor.) It was another good conversation together, and we both look forward to next week.