When I was much younger, my father would frequently apologize for his abusive episodes, telling me that he was imperfect, and waiting for the day when Jehovah would “make him better.” My stepmother similarly had many flaws of her own, as do many of us, but again, she was looking forward to a time in the future, when Jehovah would “make her right,” into a perfect, blemish-free individual. There was no obligation on their part to really work that hard at being better parents, spouses or overall individuals. No need to try to be the “best version” of themselves, as so many of us are striving toward day in and day out.
This individual, and somewhat collective perspective, keeps loyal Jehovah’s Witnesses from being active in politics, voting, and engaging in civic-minded activities like feeding the homeless (and let’s not mention refusing to give blood; oh wait, I just did). They reason that “someday” Jehovah will cleanse the earth of all wickedness, and miraculously convert the earth into a paradise earth for all Jehovah’s Witnesses to enjoy exclusively (although more than a few of us have been left to speculate what is going to be done to quickly rid the earth of the seven billion “wicked ones” now walking the earth). Holding to the view that it is the responsibility of someone else, namely Jehovah’s, to fix all of the world’s ills, is awfully liberating. Wouldn’t it be great to not have to care at all whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton win the US presidential election? Then again, I do believe there are many people who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses who don’t care about that either, but I hope you see my point.
Yes, in many ways it is easier to live in the bubble, separate from the world at large, with no skin in the game whatsoever. Foreign troops drop in on the United States and take over? Who cares, Jehovah will fix it eventually. The invaders come and kill our women and children? No problem! They will just wake up in a paradise earth in a flash! If I had a nickel for every time someone told me they just couldn’t wait for “the new system of things,” well, you know the rest. It’s one thing to put faith in God, which I do, it’s another to expect that God will just take care of it all, absolving ourselves of any and all responsibility.
I’m not going to open a dialogue here to try to explain what Jesus meant when he said “I am no part of the world” in John 17:16 (although anyone reading this may feel free to jump in), but I do believe we need to be accountable for our own actions and behaviors. We can’t continue to carelessly ignore the work of progressive personal improvement, expecting God to fix us, like a broken clock. I don’t like it much either when so-called Christians (non-JW) habitually commit awful acts, then write them off saying it’s okay, “Jesus died for my sins.” I don’t subscribe to this “blank-check” theory whereby we are given a license to not care about our behavior or the world at large. I don’t believe that is what God intended. You may or may not agree with me, and that’s fine. With freedom comes the right to disagree and have dissenting views; but with freedom also comes responsibility, the responsibility to be the best we can be and in the process contribute the best of ourselves to the world around us.