The Pursuit of Peace
1. Having found peace, what must the lover of life then do, and what obligation now rests upon him?
AFTER the lover of life has sought and found peace with God through his Son Jesus Christ, what must he do? He must henceforth pursue peace. “Let him seek peace and pursue it,” is the counsel through the Christian apostle Peter. (1 Pet. 3:11) He must make peace his pursuit for the rest of his life. That means he must maintain peace. He is not alone in enjoying peace with God through Christ. His entering into peace with God brings him into peaceful relationship with the congregation of all those who are entirely dedicated to God through Christ and who have thus become reconciled to God. (2 Cor. 5:18-21) He must not become a disturber of the Christian congregation. It is his obligation to preserve a quiet, tranquil, calm, harmonious relationship with this organization. He must live up to the rule of conduct stated by an apostle of the Christian governing body: “Be peaceable with one another. On the other hand, we exhort you, brothers, admonish the disorderly, speak comfortingly to the depressed souls, support the weak, be long-suffering toward all. See that no one renders injury for injury to anyone else, but always pursue what is good toward one another and to all others.”—1 Thess. 5:13-15.
2. Amidst what situation must Christians pursue this course, and because of their being a principal target of attack what attempt is made respecting them?
2 Christians have to pursue this course amidst a world in which there is turmoil everywhere such as there was never before. Since his being cast down to earth immediately after the birth of God’s kingdom in the heavens in 1914, Satan the Devil and his demons have been maliciously bent on causing all the woe, tumult and disquietude that they can among men. (Rev. 12:12) His principal target of attack now is the Christian remnant of spiritual Israel and their “great crowd” of sheeplike companions. (Rev. 12:17) Satan is accordingly doing his utmost to cause unrest, disturbance and disruption among them in order to break up the organization.
3. By what discriminations has Satan kept the world upset, but how did God long ago do away with this inside his congregation?
3 Hence each lover of life, who has found inside God’s visible organization the peace that he was seeking, must make peace his fixed pursuit. In the world Satan the Devil has succeeded in keeping it upset and eruptive by means of racial, tribal and color discrimination. But God through Christ did away with this inside his true Christian congregation. The Christian congregation started out as an almost Jewish Christian organization in ancient Jerusalem, except for some circumcised proselytes from other nations. (Acts 2:10; 6:5) Then circumcised Samaritans were added to the believers. (Acts 8:4-25) It was first three and a half years after Jesus Christ died on the torture stake outside Jerusalem that there was introduced into the Christian congregation the first uncircumcised Gentile or non-Jew, an Italian named Cornelius, together with a number of his relatives and intimate friends.—Acts 10:1 to 11:2.
4. How did God make it possible for the circumcised Jewish Christians to adjust themselves to his merciful arrangement toward Gentiles?
4 At first this occasioned considerable unrest among the circumcised Jewish Christians, but in time they got peaceably adjusted to this merciful arrangement of God. This final admission of uncircumcised non-Jews into the Christian congregation was made possible by God. How? He took away the fence barrier, the wall of separation, namely, the Law given through Moses, which had divided off the Jews from the Gentile world. By Jesus Christ as Mediator between God and men he established a new covenant with Christians.
5, 6. How did Paul explain to the congregation at Ephesus why there must be no segregation inside the congregation on various grounds?
5 The apostle Paul explained why there must be no segregation inside the Christian congregation on the grounds of race, tribe, nation or color. He wrote to the congregation at Ephesus, which included Gentiles or non-Jews who were once far off from Jehovah:
6 “But now in union with Christ Jesus you who were once far off have come to be near by the blood of the Christ. For he is our peace, he who made the two parties [Jews and Gentiles] one and destroyed the wall in between that fenced them off. By means of his flesh [impaled on the torture stake] he abolished the hatred, the Law of commandments consisting in decrees, that he might create the two peoples [Jews and Gentiles] in union with himself into one new man and make peace, and that he might fully reconcile both peoples in one body to God through the torture stake, because he had killed off the hatred by means of himself. And he came and declared the good news of peace to you, the ones far off [Gentiles], and peace to those near [the Jews], because through him we, both peoples [Jews and Gentiles], have the approach to the Father [Jehovah God] by one spirit.”—Eph. 2:11-18.
7. In view of the adjustment made in spiritual Israel long ago, why is there no basis today for segregating the great crowd of other sheep from spiritual Israel, and how does Haggai 2:6-9 indicate this?
7 Jesus’ sacrifice on the torture stake is the basis for desegregating the believing Jews and the believing Gentiles, of all the nations. Certainly, then, today that same sacrifice of Jesus for the “sin of the world” is the basis for the desegregating and the unifying of the small remnant of spiritual Israel and the “great crowd” of earthly sheep out of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues. In this time when Jehovah’s Right Shepherd is gathering his other sheep to his right hand, there must be no segregating of this great crowd of other sheep from spiritual Israel. “They will become one flock, one shepherd,” said the Right Shepherd Jesus Christ. (John 10:16; Matt. 25:31-40) There must be Christian harmony, unity and peaceableness among all those in the one flock under the Right Shepherd Jesus Christ, “for he is our peace.” It is exactly in connection with Jehovah’s promise to shake all nations and to cause the precious things, the desirable things, of all nations to come to His house of worship that he says: “And in this place will I give peace, saith Jehovah of hosts.” (Hag. 2:6-9, AS) To this date Satan and his demons have been unable to frustrate this prophecy.
PRAYER FOR IT
8. In harmony with Psalm 122:6-8, what will we daily pray for, and why could Jesus Christ not be head of a congregation in a condition not like that?
8 If we really have at heart the good of the organization to the glory of God, then we will pray to the God of peace that he will keep his people in oneness, concord and quietude. In our daily prayers we will bear in mind the words of the psalmist David: “Ask for the peace of Jerusalem. Those loving you will be free from care. May peace continue within your rampart, freedom from care within your dwelling towers. For the sake of my brothers and my companions I will now speak: ‘May there be peace within you.’” (Ps. 122:6-8) Agreeably with such prayer, the name Jerusalem means “The Possession of Peace,” or, “Founded Peaceful.” It was there at the site of Jerusalem that the priest Melchizedek was King of Salem, which title means “King of Peace.” Jehovah God swore that his Son Jesus Christ was to be a priest-king like Melchizedek forever. In harmony with this, one of the names of the glorified Son of God was to be Prince of Peace. (Gen. 14:18-20; Ps. 110:1-4; Heb. 6:20 to 7:21; Isa. 9:6, 7) With such a title, how could Jesus Christ as Princely King of Peace be the spiritual head of a congregation that becomes split, disturbed and uproarious with dissension, enmity, jealousy, competition, rivalry and sectarianism, as Christendom is today and has ever been? He could not. But as King he can enforce and does maintain peace within the “congregation, which is his body.” (Eph. 1:22, 23) By his angels he gathers out peace-disturbers.—Matt. 13:41.
9. (a) How did Paul, in Philippians 4:6, 7, magnify the pacifying power of prayer? (b) Praying in harmony with 1 Timothy 2:1-4, what could God’s obedient servants never take part in under any government?
9 In magnifying the pacifying power of heartfelt prayer the apostle Paul wrote to his beloved Christian brothers at Philippi: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God, and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6, 7) The apostle bore in mind, also, that true Christians on earth must live under worldly political rulers who do not sue for peace with Jehovah God and whose governments affect the lives of true followers of the Prince of Peace. So Paul wrote this exhortation to the Christian overseer Timothy: “I therefore exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, offerings of thanks, be made concerning all kinds of men, concerning kings and all those who are in high station, in order that we may go on leading a calm and quiet life with full godly devotion and seriousness. This is right and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, whose will is that all kinds of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:1-4) Praying that way, the obedient servants of Jehovah God our Savior could never take part in revolts, revolutions, uprisings, rebellions, secessions, conspiracies and any kind of popular action, disturbance or violence against persons in high political or governmental station. Under any and all sorts of government, even under ban and proscription, faithful witnesses of Jehovah lead a calm and quiet life.
10. What must pursuing peace “with all people” mean for those within the congregation, and of what fruitage and what wisdom is this an evidence?
10 “Pursue peace with all people, and the sanctification without which no man will see the Lord,” is the exhortation of Hebrews 12:14. If Christians seek to pursue peace with people outside the congregation, then certainly they ought to pursue it with those inside the congregation, who are their own dedicated brothers. We should never forget that peace is part of the fruitage of God’s spirit, which we must cultivate to rich ripeness. (Gal. 5:22) It is an evidence of having and exercising heavenly wisdom, for “the wisdom from above is first of all chaste, then peaceable.” (Jas. 3:17) The inspired proverb agrees with this in saying: “Happy is the man that has found wisdom.” Why? Because “its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its roadways are peace.”—Prov. 3:13-17.
11. How does Paul state that peace is what unites the congregation, and so who do not deserve to be in the congregation?
11 Yes, freedom from internal strife, dissension and disorder is what unites the Christian congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses. In witness thereof Paul writes: “But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union. Also let the peace of the Christ control in your hearts [the residence place of motive], for you were, in fact, called to it [to peace] in one body [not in two or more disunited bodies].” (Col. 3:14, 15) If we make it our continual pursuit, peace will serve as a uniting bond to those who have the spirit of God. Paul says so in these words: “Walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with complete lowliness of mind and mildness, with long-suffering, putting up with one another in love, earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace. One body [under Christ] there is, and one spirit.” (Eph. 4:1-4) One who willfully, maliciously disturbs does not walk worthily of being in the Christian congregation of the God of peace.—Rom. 16:17, 18.
AN EFFECT OF THEOCRATIC ARRANGEMENT
12. (a) For the indulgence in what is the birth of God’s kingdom no reason? (b) To enjoy life and peace, what must we mind, and why?
12 The evidence is that since 1914 we have been living under the kingdom of God, which was born in the heavens that year. This should be and has been a cause for great rejoicing among lovers of God and of life. This is no reason, however, for greedy, inconsiderate and materialistic eating and drinking, by which we could stumble others and tear them down spiritually. The enjoyment of the benefits of God’s long-awaited kingdom means things higher than sense-dulling excessive eating and drinking. “For,” says Paul, “the kingdom of God does not mean eating and drinking, but means righteousness and peace and joy with holy spirit. So, then, let us pursue the things making for peace and the things that are upbuilding to one another. Stop tearing down the work of God just for the sake of food.” (Rom. 14:17, 19, 20) The minding of our selfish flesh is no part of our Christian pursuit, but the cultivation of the fruitage of God’s spirit is. If we love life and good days under God’s kingdom, we will heed this warning: “The minding of the flesh means death, but the minding of the spirit means life and peace; because the minding of the flesh means enmity [lack of friendship] with God, for it is not under subjection to the law of God, nor, in fact, can it be. So those who are in harmony with the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:6-8) Hence, mind the spirit; be at peace with God.
13. What did the coming of God’s kingdom to power in 1914 mean for the congregation of its subjects, and when did this become true for them, in fulfillment of Isaiah 60:17?
13 Instead of loose gaiety, the coming of God’s kingdom to power in the heavens in 1914 means a stricter procedure on earth inside the congregation of the subjects of the Kingdom. In ancient days when there was no human king in Israel, what was right in his own eyes was what each Israelite was accustomed to do. But when God answered their request and gave them a human king, that personal loose freedom of action was changed, exactly as Jehovah God himself forewarned. (Judg. 21:25; 1 Sam. 8:9-18) This strictness became true with regard to Jehovah’s modern witnesses when they began to set up theocratic procedures and arrangements among themselves in 1919 when reorganizing themselves following the havoc-working first world war. This became particularly true from 1938 onward, after the Watchtower magazine published the two-part article entitled “Organization,” based on the Bible verse, Isaiah 60:17 (Ro): “Instead of bronze I will bring in gold; and instead of iron I will bring in silver; and instead of wood, bronze; and instead of stones, iron; and I will appoint the oversight of thee [God’s symbolic capital city or organization] to prosperity, and the setting of thy tasks to righteousness.”
14. How did the installing of the theocratic order result in improvement, and therefore what must all lovers of life loyally support and maintain?
14 As promised in this prophecy, the installing of the theocratic order of operation among Jehovah’s witnesses on earth fully from 1938 onward meant improvement. It did result in noticeable improvement. It made for great peace. It helped to maintain peace inside the organization. It standardized methods of operation and conduct throughout the earth in the 175 lands where Jehovah’s witnesses are now preaching the gladsome news of His kingdom, in fulfillment of Matthew 24:14. It removed dissimilarity, confusion, inequalities and disorder from the earth-encircling organization. It helped toward fulfilling God’s loving promise to his wifelike organization: “And all your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.” (Isa. 54:13) Therefore in their sincere pursuit of peace all lovers of life will loyally support and maintain the theocratic setup of the organization.
15 This management of the things of the organization theocratically or according to God’s rule applies also to the conducting of the meetings of the Christian congregation and the program for those attending such meetings. Paul, as a member of the theocratic governing body, spoke against disorderly meetings or meetings without good continuity, without a controlled program, where things may be said or done disconnectedly and without being explained or understood. He said: “Let all things take place for upbuilding. Further, let two or three prophets speak, and let the others discern the meaning. But if there is a revelation to another one while sitting there, let the first one keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all be encouraged. And gifts of the spirit of the prophets are to be controlled by the prophets. For God is a God, not of disorder, but of peace.”—1 Cor. 14:26, 29-33.
16. In the pursuit of peace, what did David and Peter stress that we have to restrain, and how?
16 For the sake of the unity, harmony and restful calm of the congregation we must specially guard our tongues and lips. Did not the psalmist David, right after asking who it was that delighted in life and loved enough days to see what is good, say: “Safeguard your tongue against what is bad, and your lips against speaking deception”? (Ps. 34:13) Yes! And did not the apostle Peter quote those words of David right after he had advised his Christian brothers, saying: “Not paying back injury for injury or reviling for reviling, but, to the contrary, bestowing a blessing, because you were called to this course, so that you might inherit a blessing”? (1 Pet. 3:9) Yes! With the tongue and lips we can pay back injury for injury. With the tongue and lips we can revile the one reviling us. But with the tongue and lips we can, instead, bestow a blessing, even upon one doing us an injury or reviling us. The bestowing of a blessing has a better effect. It is a mild answer that turns away rage. (Prov. 15:1) It results in a spiritual benefit to at least the blesser. It saves him from becoming like the injurious speaker or reviler. It makes for peace inside the organization. Therefore the pursuit of peace unavoidably requires us to restrain our tongues from what is injurious and our lips from speaking deceitfully. We simply have to refrain from slander, backbiting, revilings.
17. What is the best safeguard against this, and why is the pursuit of peace not contrary in meaning to this?
17 The best safeguard for this is to teach and preach the precious truth about God’s kingdom, inside our meeting places and outside, publicly and from house to house. Do not be mistaken: Godly peace does not mean inactivity, careless ease, laziness. The God of peace has given his organized people, his witnesses on earth, a strenuous work to do. It is the work of bearing witness to Him and to his reigning Son Jesus Christ, in all the inhabited earth, to all the nations before these come to their calamitous end at Armageddon.
18. (a) As to this work to be performed, what vital fact do Jehovah’s witnesses from all extractions recognize? (b) Hence what command of Jesus do they obey, to the fulfillment of what prophecy of peace and brotherhood?
18 This work must be performed by his dedicated witnesses of all nationalities, tribes, peoples, colors and languages. They cannot unitedly perform this work while fighting and bickering among themselves because of external, naturally caused differences. They must co-operate peaceably. The harmonious carrying out of their God-given witness work earth-wide demands international, interracial, intertribal, intercongregational peace among themselves. Jehovah’s witnesses recognize this vital fact. So they obey the instruction of Jehovah’s Principal Witness, Jesus Christ: “Keep peace between one another.” (Mark 9:50) They harmonize their deeds and endeavors with the beautiful prophetic vision given in Isaiah 2:1-4 of this international peace and brotherhood in the united worship of Jehovah God. Hence their witness work prospers.—Jas. 3:18.
19. (a) For what warfare are they armed, and how? (b) In their house-to-house work for whom do they look, but whom do they leave?
19 Wherever they go with the Kingdom message they promote the abiding peace that is to adorn God’s new world of righteousness. They are armed only for a spiritual warfare, not a sanguinary war with flesh and blood. Consequently they equip themselves as the apostle Paul said to do: “with your feet shod with the equipment of the good news of peace.” (Eph. 6:11-15) In their house-to-house work they are looking for the friends of peace with God. Jesus Christ told them to do this, saying: “Wherever you enter into a house say first: ‘May this house have peace.’ And if a friend of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if no such one is there, it will turn back to you.” (Luke 10:5, 6; Matt. 10:12, 13) If the householder proves to be an enemy of peace, they leave the house. They have no religious quarrel to pick with Jehovah’s foes.
20. Why, despite religious persecution, do they go on rejoicing, and what sure hope do they entertain as regards peace?
20 Nevertheless, they encounter much religious persecution. In spite of it all they go on rejoicing. “Those counseling peace have rejoicing.” (Prov. 12:20) They know God’s promise that men who unjustly make tribulation for them will be destroyed at Armageddon. (2 Thess. 1:6-10) They are strengthened and comforted in the sure hope that their continual pursuit of peace will be rewarded with an endless measure of it after Armageddon in the new world promised by Jehovah God, the righteous Judge. “He will render to each one according to his works: everlasting life to those who are seeking glory and honor and incorruptibleness by endurance in work that is good; however, for those who are contentious and who disobey the truth but obey unrighteousness there will be wrath and anger, tribulation and distress, upon the soul of every man who works what is injurious, . . . but glory and honor and peace for everyone who works what is good.”—Rom. 2:6-10.
21. In answer to what inspired question do we each one want to identify ourselves, and accordingly what will we seek and pursue?
21 To the divinely inspired question, “Who is the man that is delighting in life, that is loving enough days to see what is good?” can we now each one answer, “I am”? If we can, then in Jehovah God’s way let us seek to find peace and pursue it.