I couldn’t have put a name on it back then when I was a child, but now I know what bothered me….it was the hypocrisy that I felt in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was the feeling that they were somehow better than those in the “world”. It was an uncomfortable and unsettling feeling growing inside of me of pride, and I was turning the same way. I was beginning to feel “better” than the “world” too. That people I encountered, even if I liked them, I had an “edge” on. We were told that they didn’t “know better”. It was our job to “teach them”. That’s why the witnesses go door to door; to teach and instruct, to convert people to become witnesses. That’s why they have that half-smile, the always pleasantly coached answer. They have been trained well. They feel they are the only ones on the straight and narrow path to life. Everyone else isn’t. If you don’t follow them and their teachings and their interpretations of the Bible, then you are part of the world, and thus ignorant, you just don’t know any better.
The trouble was I liked people. I couldn’t always see the difference between the witnesses and the non-witnesses. Sure, there were times when I could see a distinction I thought, like when I perceived someone as unkind, or doing something that I felt was wrong, and then in my mind I would deem them “worldly”. So growing up, I somehow got this message in me that people who weren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses weren’t like us; they were worldly, or bad. Worldly = bad. Anyone who wasn’t a witness was bad. How warped is that? I was always struggling with this thing inside me of liking what I had been told were “bad” people. Hence then, I must be bad.
You have to realize that my recollections of the teachings of the JW’s are from my youth and into my late teens. That was a long time ago. I have spent quite a long time trying to retrain my mind. The JW’s will take scriptures out of context to support their teachings, and once that has been ingrained in your brain, Satan will use that to his advantage to make you doubt yourself, frustrate you and hinder you in understanding God’s grace. I felt for years that the witnesses used a form of mental abuse, consciously or sub-consciously. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered they are actually classified as a cult, which validated my feelings. Some comfort, but doesn’t change anything when you’ve lived through it.
When I left the witnesses, and spent time with people that the witnesses called “worldly”, I saw the same hypocrisy that I felt with the witnesses. Then I doubted myself even further, and didn’t know what to believe.
Here’s the thing about hypocrisy….we can’t help it. It’s in us. It’s sin. We have to fight it. We can’t deny it. I don’t care how great of a person you think you are, whether you are a Christian or not, what denomination you are in, what religion you practice, whether you believe in God or not, whether you think you are a good person or not, you are or have been a hypocrite at one time. We all have.
That criminal…….he deserves everything he gets…….that homeless person…. why don’t they get a job….that overweight person, why don’t they stop eating so much….look at the way that person is dressed….I wouldn’t wear that….listen to what he/she just said….I wouldn’t say that….can you believe how stupid they are…..don’t they even know that….why can’t so and so help…I’ve done my part….. We may not say it, but we certainly think it sometimes. We’re better. We know more. We do more. We are more. We make more. We look better. Whatever “it” is that we think we are better at that creeps into our minds.
It isn’t something we want to admit is it? It isn’t something to be proud of. But pride is what we feel. Hypocrisy and pride, two sins hand in hand.
I think that is what turns people off against some Christians. Too many people who call themselves Christians don’t want to admit they have the same hypocritical and prideful attitude at times. Come on people let’s be real.
There was only one person who walked this earth who could say they were not a hypocrite at all in their life. And that was Jesus. He was about love, unconditional love. So everybody else needs to just get real and admit that they’ve dealt with it, have to deal with it and will probably deal with it again sometime in the future.
So one of the struggles that I’ve had to fight over the years, was that subtle mental upbringing of always judging the good vs. the bad; trying to live up to an impossible ideal, and then beating me up when I failed. Anybody else get on that merry-go-round? Remember, we’re getting real here. It really doesn’t matter which seat you choose to ride, they all go up and down, around in the same circle, going nowhere.
You know what stopped the struggle?
Getting off that ride.