The Unity That Has God’s Approval
WE HAVE examined some of the many efforts put forth to unite men on the basis of religion. But even the World Council of Churches is divided on many issues and is unable to give a clear, united call in its message. Why do such efforts to attain unity fail?
First, because the efforts are for a unity based on only one or two doctrinal points or features of organizational structure, usually a result of a compromise of individual sectarian beliefs. Then they try to merge groups rather than individuals, and there is often greater disunity between the people making up the merging groups than there is between the groups. Further, attaining unity on one or two points of doctrine does not unite the millions of church members involved, in their thinking, viewpoints and conduct. This is not the unity that God approves.
The Unity as Taught by Christ Jesus
When Christ Jesus was on the earth, he mentioned that those worshiping his Father “must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:23, 24) This signifies a unity far more extensive than a merger of groups or an agreement on one or two points of doctrine. He said to his disciples: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He that remains in union with me, and I in union with him, this one bears much fruit . . . You remain in union with me and my sayings remain in you . . . If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love.” (John 15:5, 7, 10) Jesus talked of no superficial unity, but he said that his sayings should remain in his disciples and that they should observe all his commandments.
Did not Jesus say that his followers must not be part of this world (John 15:19), that they should love one another as he loved them (John 13:34, 35), that they should avoid dishonesty and immorality (Matthew 5:28; Mark 7:21-23), and that they must go through the narrow gate and remain on the cramped road to get life (Matthew 7:13, 14)? Will anyone honestly claim that these sayings of Jesus are active in even a minority of the members of churches working toward unity? Yet, the very basis of unity among men must be their unity with Christ Jesus and his sayings. But one might ask, Is such a unity possible? The Bible answers yes; it was practiced in the Christian congregation of the first century.
On the last evening before his death, Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father concerning his followers: “Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth. . . . I make request . . . that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, in order that the world may believe that you sent me forth.” (John 17:17, 20-23) This unity continued to be strengthened by the effect of God’s Word and holy spirit on Jesus’ followers.
Early Christian Congregation United
The early Christian disciples were united around the teachings of the apostles. (Acts 2:42) Jesus had commanded his followers to make disciples of people of all the nations, so their unity would come to transcend national and racial boundaries. (Matthew 28:19, 20) For this reason it could be said of the first Christians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one person in union with Christ Jesus.”—Galatians 3:28.
The early Christians were united in their concept of God, his name and purpose (Matthew 6:9, 10; Romans 10:13; 1 Peter 3:10-12; 1 John 4:8-10), as well as in their view of the world around them. (2 Corinthians 4:4; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17; 5:19, 20) They also shared the view of moral conduct that Peter held, stating: “In accord with the Holy One who called you, do you also become holy yourselves in all your conduct.” (1 Peter 1:14-16; 2:12) Thus we can see that the unity of the Christian congregation in the first century was far reaching. Those Christians were exhorted to “speak in agreement, and . . . be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.”—1 Corinthians 1:10.
But, some may argue, that was when the Christian congregation was young, in its primitive state and small. And, they may say, that it is only natural that as Christianity came to include many national, racial and cultural groups, vast differences would develop as time went on. Yet Jesus prayed that the love and unity displayed by his followers should prove both that he was sent forth from God and that they were his disciples. (John 17:20, 21; 13:34, 35) Reasonably, this should be the case with Jesus’ true disciples in the time of the end where we are now living. Such a unity does indeed exist within the growing number of that group of people known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
True Christian Unity in Our Time
Formerly divided as members of scores of different religions, or members of none, Jehovah’s Witnesses have become truly united by reason of their worship of God through Christ Jesus and the uniting effect of God’s Word, the Bible, in their lives.
In case some might view this not as true unity but as a form of sectarian regimentation, we say: Take a good, honest look at the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses wherever you live. You will find that they have the same beliefs, the same concept of God, the same view of moral conduct and the same view of the world around them as their fellow believers in every country in the world. And this regardless of their nationality, race or previous religious or political affiliations. Because they follow Jesus’ command to be no part of this world (John 15:19), their unity is not disrupted by the world’s conflicts.
Theirs is a unity of individuals, not a mere merger of groups. Theirs is a unity of thinking and conduct, a unity that affects every aspect of their lives. It is a unity that is based on their seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. (Matthew 6:33) Jehovah’s Witnesses pray: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come.” (Matthew 6:9, 10) To them, this is more than a meaningless recitation. These words point to the real hope for uniting mankind: God’s heavenly Kingdom government.
See this for yourself. We encourage you to get in touch with the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and attend its meetings. Further, during the coming months Jehovah’s Witnesses will be holding large district conventions. By attending one of these conventions, as well as having association in the congregation near your home, you will be able to observe and experience the unity that has been attained by Jehovah’s Witnesses—the unity that God approves.
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At meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses one can experience true, all-embracing unity of people motivated by God’s Word