In this installment of Faithful Fridays, I share the answers I offered to my Mom for her following questions:
- Why did Paul walk most of the time?
- Is it okay to mingle and discuss scripture with Jehovah’s Witnesses?
My main source for my answers stem from the Book of Acts and Paul’s Epistles, and I consulted GotQuestions.org for personal clarification. As you might glean from my writing, I address my Mom directly. I am of course, open to constructive criticism, correction, and discussion, as I too am in my own personal journey.
Why did Paul walk most of the time?
The disciples’ mode of transportation is immaterial in terms of the Bible’s message. It’s almost like asking, “What was Jesus’ favorite dish?”. We are free to speculate, but we have to use the power of discernment that the Holy Spirit stirs in us because our own “wisdom” is nothing compared to the wisdom of God for —
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
— 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
— Isaiah 55:8-9
And so the best we can do is speculate; and speculation does not automatically mean truth. Easiest scenario to think about is that Paul walked because it was what he was accustomed to do — he was walking from Jerusalem to Damascus (please refer to the analysis of the scene: http://www.bibleversestudy.com/acts/acts9-saul-damascus-road.htm) after all. We can also guess as to that since his funds were now limited (as he was no longer under the employ of the Pharisees and murdering Christ’s disciples), he can no longer afford a horse or a donkey.
We can come up with all sorts of reasons, but it does not change the fact that regardless of Paul’s choice of mode of transportation, we would not be talking about Christ today if not for his life devoted to Christ.
Is it okay to mingle and discuss scripture with Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Before I proceed, I would like to put it out there that I am no way out to criticize and bash other religions. My answers are coming from an Evangelical Christian perspective. I know that my faith and beliefs may not mesh with that of other people and vice-versa, but I believe in loving others first, and I know how Jehovah’s Witnesses can be the kindest and most loving people out there. I am merely answering my mother’s questions, and we both follow the thought that there’s no other effective way to communicate than to be blunt and to be straight to the point.
That said, here we go!
First, Jesus laid out the most important commands for His followers to (well) follow:
“… And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
— Mark 12:30-31 (NKJV)
Jesus dined with tax collectors (at the time, considered as traitors to their kind and the worst scum of them all) and prostitutes. He healed outcasts such as lepers, and even engaged in debate with the Pharisees. He doesn’t tell us to “go hang out with fellow Christians ONLY” — how are we able to spread the love of God after all, if we are hateful people? Jesus takes love so seriously, that He says:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
— John 13:34-35
So to answer the first part of the question: yes, it’s okay to be friends with Jehovah’s Witnesses, as it is okay to be friends with non-Christians, because —
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
— Matthew 9:11-13
HOWEVER! Paul issues a warning. While Christ has commanded us to love our “enemies” (actually, they are not even enemies per se, but let’s take the word as those who do not necessarily share our beliefs) as we do our neighbors (= our friends, family):
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
— 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
- Jesus is Michael the archangel, the highest created being. This contradicts many Scriptures which clearly declare Jesus to be God (John 1:1,14, 8:58, 10:30).
- Jehovah’s Witnesses believe salvation is obtained by a combination of faith, good works, and obedience. This contradicts countless scriptures which declare salvation to be received by grace through faith (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
- Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the Trinity, believing Jesus to be a created being and the Holy Spirit to essentially be the inanimate power of God.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the concept of Christ’s substitutionary atonement and instead hold to a ransom theory, that Jesus’ death was a ransom payment for Adam’s sin.
While we can argue that it’s just a case of “differing religions”, we have to be wise and discerning about the doctrines they follow. If we truly claim to be followers of Christ and His teachings, we are only to look to the source of His word — and His word does not contradict Jesus being (1) The Son of God, (2) in Whom we are saved through faith, (3) that He has defeated sin and death on the Cross and with His Resurrection, and (4) that God is three persons in the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), but one God.
In summary: Yes, we can be friends with non-Christians and discuss scriptural matters with them, we are even commanded to love them; but we must remain firm on our faith and not compromise on God’s commands.
I therefore urge you to pray, to let the Holy Spirit guide you, as you immerse yourself in the truth of God’s word. Should you find yourself wavering, remember what Paul and the early disciples went through — they suffered and died to spread the Good News: that God so loved the world that He sent his only Son, Jesus; who was made flesh to bear the sins of all, and so that through Him and Him alone, in faith (not by good deeds), we are saved from the penalty of sin which is death; and so that we can enjoy eternal life in the presence of our Creator and Savior.