An Exhibition of Unity in a Split-up World
“In unity I shall set them, like a flock in the pen, like a drove in the midst of its pasture; they will be noisy because of men.”—Mic. 2:12.
1, 2. (a) An exhibition of true oneness on earth should serve what purpose? (b) As regards big organizations, what big groups claim to be united, but what do the facts show as to their claim?
AN EXHIBITION of unity—where on earth can we find it today? Could we find such an exhibition of true oneness, it would be worthy of serving as a pattern for all mankind. Today there are big things that are called “united.” Take, for example, the United Nations. Why, it has a membership of more than ninety nations, and for its bigness it certainly ought to impress all mankind in its unitedness. But is it really united in more than in name? It is certainly not holding the world together, but the Western bloc of nations, the Eastern bloc of nations and the neutralist bloc of nations bring into the organization their differences of political, social, racial and religious ideas and objectives.
2 Another big thing is the Communist bloc of nations. In June of 1960 the representatives of the Soviet bloc countries met in Bucharest, Romania; and on June 27 the twelve ruling Communist parties, including the Red Chinese, issued a communiqué that reaffirmed their unity of objective and action. “The participants in the conference,” said the last paragraph, “declare that the Communist and Workers parties will continue to strengthen the cohesion of the countries of the world Socialist system and will preserve like the apple of the eye unity in the struggle for peace and the security of all peoples, for the triumph of the great cause of Marxism-Leninism.” But is there real unity in that big bloc that embraces one third of the world’s population? The facts belie the claims, but there is fear that with what unity they can compel among themselves they will at last impose their domination on all men.
3, 4. (a) In contrast with big things, where may the real unity be exhibited and with what possibility? (b) In this connection, to what really small thing do we have reference, and what was its beginning and its early growth?
3 Not to speak of big things, even such a small thing as a family of a husband and wife and children is a hard group to keep in unity today. But in a small thing we may see exhibited the unity that should exist among all mankind for their good. Also, from a small thing a big thing may grow to embrace in time all “men of good will,” all because of its very unity. Such a small thing is the “little flock,” as the Good Shepherd, the prophet of Nazareth, called his body of followers.—Luke 12:32; Matt. 21:11.
4 No, no, we do not mean Christendom of these past sixteen centuries. Christendom has never been a “little flock.” Today it claims to include 848,659,038 professed Christians, which is about one third the population of the whole earth. Christendom, with its Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox churchmen and Protestants, is not united, either politically or socially, not to speak of religiously, despite its claims to being Christian. The recent appeal of the pope of Vatican City for unity of the churches of Christendom in connection with his forthcoming ecumenical council is a roaring admission of disunity among religionists whose lack of unity belies their Christianity and is their shame. No, we have reference to something that has always been really small, little, and that is the true Christian church or congregation. It began with just 120 members on earth, in Jerusalem; and, because of a miracle that God performed upon it, this congregation grew on that one day of Pentecost, A.D. 33, to “about three thousand souls.” Some time later the number was reported to have increased to “about five thousand.”—Acts 1:15; 2:1-41; 4:4.
5. As its beginning, how did the congregation strike the right tone as to its internal condition, and how does the record show this?
5 Striking the right tone for the only true Christian church ever afterward, the congregation of followers of Jesus Christ began in unity and peace. The Bible record concerning it after it grew to three thousand members proves that fact: After they were baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ, “they continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to association together, to taking of meals and to prayers. Indeed, fear began to fall upon every soul, and many wonders and signs began to occur through the apostles. All those who became believers were together in having all things in common, and they went to selling their possessions and properties and to distributing the proceeds to all just as anyone would have the need. And day after day they were in constant attendance at the temple with one accord, and they took their meals in private homes and partook of nourishment with great rejoicing and sincerity of heart, praising God and finding acceptance with all the people.”—Acts 2:42-47.
6, 7. (a) How did that unity stand up under religious persecution? (b) What happened to that unity when the congregation ceased to be exclusively of natural Jews and circumcised proselytes?
6 This unity was maintained in spite of opposition by religious enemies. The record says: “They were one and all filled with the holy spirit and were speaking the word of God with boldness. Moreover, the multitude of those who had believed had one heart and soul, and not even one would say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.” Unity may have been a simple, easy matter when all the congregation was of natural Jews and circumcised proselytes; but what about when the non-Jewish, uncircumcised believers were admitted into the congregation?
7 Then there was a straightening out of their understanding of matters, and the unity of the interracial, international congregation survived. The Jewish believers and proselytes extended a welcome to Gentiles and rejoiced at the broadening of God’s mercy to non-Jews. “They acquiesced, and they glorified God, saying: ‘Well, then, God has granted repentance for the purpose of life to people of the nations also.’”—Acts 4:31, 32; 11:1-18.
8, 9. (a) What warning by Paul and by John show how split-up Christendom came about? (b) How had Peter forewarned of this, and how did he say the way of the truth would be spoken about by those not heeding the warning?
8 How, then, did split-up Christendom come about and finally become the very seedbed of Marxist communism? Because there was a “falling away” or a rebellious separation on the part of the many from the “little flock” of the true congregation, exactly as foretold. (2 Thess. 2:3) In a farewell to certain congregation overseers the Christian apostle Paul warned: “I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore keep awake.” (Acts 20:29-31) Near the close of the first century Paul’s fellow apostle John wrote to true Christians anointed with God’s spirit: “It is the last hour, and, just as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now there have come to be many antichrists; from which fact we gain the knowledge that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of our kind; for if they had been of our kind, they would have remained with us. But they went out that it might be shown up that not all are of our kind. And you have an anointing from the holy one; all of you have knowledge.”—1 John 2:18-20.
9 The more than eighteen centuries since then have allowed for many to fall away from the “little flock,” for hypocritical wolves to enter in and selfishly devour many spiritual sheep, for men to rise inside the little flock and speak twisted things, traditions and mere doctrines and commandments of men, and to draw away many true disciples and lead hundreds of thousands who never really did become disciples. The apostle Peter wrote in warning: “Prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit. However, there also came to be false prophets among the [Jewish, Israelite] people, as there will also be false teachers among you [Christians]. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. Furthermore, many will turn out of the way and follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively.” (2 Pet. 1:21 to 2:2) According to this prophecy, the “little flock” today and their “way of the truth” was due to be spoken of abusively by those who had turned out of the true way and had followed sectarian religious leaders.
10. Hence, in looking which way for the exhibition of unity will we not be wasting our time?
10 It is not to be expected that today the “little flock,” or the faithful remnant of it, should be popular. Nevertheless, the true unity should be found among this “little flock,” this little thing or organization of today, the same as in the first century of our Common Era. Hence we waste our time and look the wrong way by looking at that big organization, Christendom swollen with hundreds of millions of members, for the exhibition of true unity for all mankind.
11, 12. What prayer for unity did Jesus make to God, and where does that prayer direct us to look for the identifying unity?
11 For the unity that marks the only true Christian congregation, why should we not logically look to the “little flock” as represented by its remnant today? The Leader and Head of the “little flock” himself prayed to God that its unity might persist. Listen to him as he prays among his faithful apostles for the last time before his martyrdom and his resurrection from the dead:
12 “I make request, not concerning these [apostles] only, but also concerning those putting faith in me through their word, in order 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. Also I have given them the glory which you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are one. I in union with them and you in union with me, in order that they may be perfected into one, that the world may have the knowledge that you sent me forth and that you have loved them just as you loved me.”—John 17:20-23.
13. Since Jesus offered that prayer for unity, why has Christendom not shown any benefit from that prayer?
13 Throughout all its history down to this day Christendom has not attained and displayed the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer for unity for his “little flock.” Why not? Because it was not for Christendom of more than a thousand sects that Jesus Christ was praying. He was not praying for persons guilty of falling away from the truth and persons who follow men speaking twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves and from Christ. He was praying for the continuous unity of his little flock as it took in more spiritual sheep into the fold under Christ as their Shepherd.
14. What did Jesus say in his prayer for unity that showed why he prayed for this particular thing?
14 The reason why he thus prayed was that he himself was returning to heaven after his resurrection from the dead and was leaving his sheep to the care of his appointed undershepherds during his absence from them in a visible way. So in his prayer he said: “I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world and I am coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them out of respect for your own name which you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are. . . . now I am coming to you, and I am speaking these things in the world in order that they may have my joy in themselves to the full. Just as you sent me forth into the world, I also sent them forth into the world.”—John 17:11, 13, 18.
15. (a) Whom did Jesus mean by using the expression “Holy Father”? (b) What did Jesus’ use of his Father’s name make out of the little flock, and what prayer of Jesus has been fulfilled in this flock?
15 Note that expression “Holy Father.” By it Jesus was not addressing any religious potentate blasphemously called “holy father” over in Vatican City inside Rome. Jesus was addressing the One whom Peter called “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:3) Jesus prayed this Holy Father to guard the little flock of sheep out of respect for his own name, the name that Jesus had made manifest to the men whom the Holy Father had given him out of the world, the little flock of disciples. The name of the Holy Father of Jesus Christ is Jehovah. In proof of this fact Psalm 2:7, 11, 12 says, with prophetic reference to the Holy Father and his Son: “Let me refer to the decree of Jehovah; he has said to me, ‘You are my son; I, today, I have become your father.’ Serve Jehovah with fear and be joyful with trembling. Kiss the son, that He may not become incensed and you may not perish from the way, for his anger flares up easily.” (See also Acts 4:24-30.) The little flock to whom Jesus Christ made manifest the name of his Holy Father must therefore be the Christian witnesses of Jehovah. (Isa. 43:10-12, AS; Yg; Da; NW) Out of respect for his own name Jehovah, the Holy Father has watched over them down till now and has brought them into the unity for which Jesus Christ prayed. In them we find today’s exhibition of unity in a split-up world.
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Modern-Day Witnesses of Jehovah