A Society Practicing Righteousness
THE desire to belong is inherent in the human family. Basically man is a sociable creature. He wants to share his life and interests with others. Today, in a morally degenerate and warring world, the longing of many is to belong to a society of people practicing righteousness, a society in which there is warmth and friendship, and wherein there is complete trust and interdependence among all its members. Is there such a society?
Amid the many societies on earth there is one earth-wide society that is so different from all others as to make it truly unique. What makes it so? Not its numbers, which run into upward of a million, for many societies can boast that many and more. Not the great wealth of its members either, for among them are to be found people of every financial level, from rich to very poor. Nor is it unique because of the great learning of those belonging to it, for among them there are not only research scientists but also those who first learned to read and write after becoming associated with this society. Neither is a particular skin color or nationality or language the distinguishing feature, for its membership embraces persons of all races, nations and tongues. Nor is this society of people to be noted for peculiarity of dress. To the casual observer they in no way differ in appearance from the people among whom they reside.
What, then, does make this society different, unique? The fact that its members have given God the first place in their lives. How? By taking seriously and applying in their lives the plain counsel of God’s Word, the Holy Bible, expressed in the following and many other like passages: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.” “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (Matt. 22:37; John 17:3) This is the solid, rocklike foundation for their unity and peace. Closely tied in, of course, is their common acceptance of the Bible as the written Guide for a proper way of life, for all its members fully agree with the application of Jesus’ words to all sixty-six of its books: “Your word is truth.”—John 17:17.
This society’s members adhere strictly to the high moral standards set forth in the Bible. Not content with that, they also recognize and accept the responsibility of following the example of Jesus, who was a faithful and tireless preacher of the kingdom of God. So this society is truly distinctive in that all its members, young and old, male and female, are Christian ministers. Among them there is no division into clergy and laity. When they come together, each one, as opportunity affords, shares in ‘holding fast the public declaration of his hope, inciting his fellows to love and fine works.’—Matt. 24:14; Heb. 10:23, 24.
The kingdom that they preach, the same kingdom for which Jesus taught his followers to pray, is the only government to which they give unqualified allegiance. While proving to be peaceful and law-abiding citizens in the various countries in which they find themselves, when faced with a conflict between human laws and divine requirements, they put obedience to God first. (Acts 5:29) Appreciating Jesus’ words, “My kingdom is no part of this world,” and, “You are no part of the world,” they do not mix in politics, and, among themselves, pay no attention to national distinctions. In this respect they are truly a unique society, the only really international one.—John 18:36; 15:19.
Because of the current rising tide of nationalism in many parts of the earth, such as in Africa with its many newly proclaimed independent states, members of this society have encountered terrible persecution. Not fully comprehending their Biblical stand of neutrality toward all this world’s national and political factions, governments and lawless elements have dealt out to its members cruel punishment. Their meeting places have been burned down, hundreds of homes destroyed, their crops ruined, and countless other indignities have been heaped upon them in an effort to break their loyalty to God and his kingdom. Nevertheless, these faithful believers in God’s kingdom have withstood such onslaughts and maintained an uncompromising stand for God and for righteousness.
Unique also is the fact that this society’s members have truly ‘beaten their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears.’ They do not fight among themselves, and they strive to “be peaceable with all men.” Even under provocation, such as when violent and unjustified action is taken against them, they have refused to retaliate or strike back.—Isa. 2:4; Rom. 12:18.
Cleanliness is another characteristic of this society. The members keep physically clean and neat, avoiding such filthy habits as smoking, chewing and spitting tobacco. They keep morally clean by refusing to lower the high Bible standards of sex relationships, honesty in financial and all other matters, and so forth. They keep religiously clean by refusing to make common cause with non-Christian groups or with so-called Christian groups that fail to adhere to the written requirements of God’s Word. Consistently they comply with the inspired counsel: “Let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear.”—2 Cor. 7:1.
What is the name of this truly different society, this society of people practicing righteousness, the kind of society to which honest persons have longed to belong? It is the society of Christian witnesses of Jehovah. As revealed in the Bible, JEHOVAH is the personal, self-given name of the only true God, and this society of people are dedicated to the work of bearing witness to his supremacy and worthiness to be served and worshiped by every creature in the universe.—Isa. 42:8; 43:10.