The Need for Earthwide Unity
“Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all . . . be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.”—1 Cor. 1:10.
1. Over what issue is there general agreement today, and so what are people everywhere calling for?
IS THERE anyone who would challenge the statement that we live today in a divided world? Politically, religiously, economically, nationally and internationally, man in this twentieth century finds himself at disagreement with his neighbors. The so-called “generation gap” is but a further evidence of the division existing between the young and their elders, between children and their parents. On all sides the call is, “Let us reason together.” From the conflicts in Vietnam, the Middle East, Africa and eastern Europe to the confrontations in the universities, colleges, high schools and elementary schools, the cry is for reason, for ending the divisions that exist. And yet it appears that mankind moves on inexorably to fulfilling the words of the apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy that in these last days of critical times men would not be “open to any agreement.”—2 Tim. 3:3.
2. In spite of the call for reason, what is occurring, leading some to what conclusion?
2 With all of the parleys of people to bring about unity, division continues and the chasm between peoples grows. The problems of peace among various national and racial groups lead oftentimes to violence and acts of bloodshed. Some feel that the problems will never be handled and that because of the natural origin of an individual or because of his color he should live separately from others of the human race.
3, 4. (a) What question is logically asked when one views the divisions in the religious field? (b) How is this division pointed up in the Catholic Church and in Protestantism?
3 In the field of religious thinking the division is indeed noticeable. To read of the views of people of different religious persuasions, and even those of the same religious organization, on a given subject more often than not leaves the individual in a state of bewilderment. Where, he asks, is the ‘same mind and the same line of thought’ when it comes to religious beliefs? It has gotten so bad that even people who are members of the very same religious organization do not agree as to what they believe, and they find it impossible to explain their beliefs to one another, or to others. The division is compounded when you consider religious thinking on an international scale. Catholic thinking among the national groups differs greatly. For example, the Catholic Church in the Netherlands produced a new Catechism. Rome said it found fifty-eight heresies in it. The new Catechism says that no clear teaching is possible on “hellfire,” and that “each of us must draw his own conclusions here.” It also questions certain aspects of the Eucharist, which, of course, touches on a very basic Catholic teaching, one dealing with the transubstantiation of the bread and wine served at the mass. Divisions have resulted from the birth-control edict issued by Pope Paul VI, as well as the celibacy of priests within the Church. The division reached a point where the Pope was no longer able to remain silent on certain issues. In the New York Times of Friday, April 4, 1969, the front-page headline read: “Pope Says Church Dissent Is ‘Practically Schismatic.’” The article pointed out that many hundreds of priests and two Latin-American bishops had renounced the vows of the priesthood due to their differences with the teachings of Rome.
4 Protestantism, with its divisions and subdivisions into hundreds of religious denominations, presents no better picture of unity in religious thinking. From tacit approval given to immoral conduct such as fornication and homosexuality to outright condemnation of the teachings of the Bible, labeling the Genesis account and other Bible doctrines as myths, the Protestant organizations show they, too, lack ability to be “fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.”
5. In view of such divisions, what questions reasonably arise?
5 All of this leads us to ask: Is it possible for mankind to be “fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought”? If so, how can such unity be brought about? Let us examine some of the solutions offered, to see whether it is possible to have earthwide unity.
6, 7. How does adversity sometimes bring people together? Cite examples.
6 What does bring people together so that they act in unity and harmony? At times, adversity brings people together. Have you ever noticed that, when a natural catastrophe such as an earthquake, a flood, hurricane, tornado, or other storm occurs, people suddenly have the urge to help their fellowman? With regard to the earthquake in Alaska in March of 1964, one report told of people “forming a human chain to protect themselves in case a fissure opened up in the street.” Another told of an elderly lady running out of a store, hands outstretched, her face white with fright. She threw her arms around a woman and they held on to each other. Said the woman: “After the earth stopped rolling, the little old lady went her way and disappeared around the corner. I had never seen her before and haven’t any idea who she is. But for a brief moment we had a common interest—survival.” In January of 1969 the west coast of the United States suffered from very heavy rains. It got so bad that houses were washed away in raging torrents. A written account tells of people fleeing on horseback, in automobiles and by helicopter. In the time of emergency people banded together to help one another, to work for a common cause and in unity. A local radio station gave continuous reports on the evacuation, and when people should leave their home. The police verified the departure of people from a certain area, and then army troops came in to prevent looting. Following the floods, bulldozers cleaned streets and lawns. Thousands of volunteers pitched in to help. Yes, the people worked together in unity in the face of adversity.
7 At times when it is known in a certain area that a thief is robbing the homes of the people, the neighbors will band together for their common good and keep a careful watch on one another’s property and belongings. Once the thief is apprehended or leaves the area, the people return to their own interests and cares.
8, 9. Outline how nations strive for unity at certain times.
8 On a larger scale, nations will often band together in a unified action when they are threatened by a common foe. Thus it was that in 1899 and in 1907 two peace conferences were held in The Hague, Netherlands, the first attended by twenty-six nations and the second by forty-four. Many of these nations were at war in 1914! To try to prevent an occurrence of another great war like that which covered the earth in 1914-1918, the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 was to regulate the armaments of Germany. Came 1936, and Nazi Germany took over the Rhineland, a demilitarized zone under the Versailles treaty, and ignored the military restrictions.
9 In 1928 the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact was signed by sixty-two nations. Its lofty purpose was to outlaw war “as an instrument of national policy.” Came 1939, and the start of World War II, and before that great war was finished most of those sixty-two nations participated in that holocaust.
10-12. What further acts of unity does history show have occurred?
10 The Soviet Union signed a nonaggression agreement with the countries of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Finland and Romania. Not long afterward the Soviet Union took over all or part of these countries.
11 In 1939 Russia and Germany signed what became known as the famous “Stalin-Hitler” nonaggression pact. Some two years later these two nations were at war on the battlefield butchering one another.
12 During World War II, the United States, England and Russia, along with other nations, cooperated closely together against the common enemy, the Axis Nations led by Germany and including Japan. Their banding together for survival was short-lived thereafter when Russia took a separate course bent on conquest. And in the interim the enemies of the United States and England, of World War II, notably Germany, Italy and Japan, have now become their allies, and the common foe in many respects comes to be Communist Russia.
13. (a) What do these efforts of the nations prove? (b) How do we know that unity for a selfish purpose is not something new?
13 All of this goes to prove but one thing: The unity of these nations and their common efforts are only for a selfish purpose, the furtherance of an aim, or a national goal. Once their ends have been served, the nations are not interested in maintaining the unity and oneness with their neighbors. A survey made of the history of mankind from 1481 B.C.E., when Egypt was the dominant world power, down to the end of World War II, a period of time amounting to about 3,426 years, shows there were more than 3,000 years of war and only 268 years of peace. During that time some 8,000 international peace agreements or treaties were made and broken. Since 1945 there have continued to be peace treaties, alliances and pacts made between and among nations, but all with a selfish end in view, not a desire to live in unity and peace with one’s neighbor.
14, 15. (a) Why is unity in the political field at times maintained? (b) What often results thereafter?
14 In the arena of national and local politics we also find that the reason for unity is often not genuine interest in the people. In many political campaigns a particular candidate is backed, not because he can do the most good for the people, but because he can bestow certain favors on those who support him. These favors are often called “patronage.” Thus if people will support a certain candidate, there is something in it for them. The unity that is gained is once again for a selfish purpose. Often the cry is loud and clear that if a particular candidate for a political office is elected he will do the most good for the populace in general. Political rallies are held, also campaign dinners and speaking engagements, all showing masses of people unified behind ‘the man who can do the most good.’ On the face of it one might easily conclude that the unified efforts of so many of these people are indeed going to bring about changes in the future for the good of the people.
15 Once the individual has the office he must begin paying off his “debts,” his promises to those who may have supported him financially and otherwise. This often means that it is not the individual who can do the most good for the masses who becomes the head of a government department or agency, but the one who served the interests of the candidate best and came through perhaps with the large campaign contribution. Others who may have also supported, but perhaps not to the same extent, now find that the promises and the unity of the campaign trail were mere illusions. Nothing changes, but again what comes to the fore is the selfishness of mankind, the desire for personal gain and advancement.
16. Up to this point, with what pressing question are we still faced?
16 And through all of this we are still faced with the question: What does bring people together so that they can act in true unity and in true harmony? Is it adversity? Is it national and international treaties and pacts? Is it the many religious organizations? Is it the politicians and their backers? Just a brief consideration of the matter causes honest-hearted ones to say that there must be something else. There has to be something else, something more stable, more sure, founded on better principles. There most assuredly is.
THE BASIS FOR TRUE UNITY
17. Identify the basis for true unity.
17 That something else has its basis in a book that has come to be disregarded by many, used as a “good-luck” charm by others and condemned by still others. Yes, it is God Almighty’s book of truth the Holy Bible. Within its pages is to be found that something which will truly unite people regardless of their national background or station in life.
18. What was Paul’s counsel to the Corinthian congregation on unity, and why was the counsel given?
18 The apostle Paul in writing his letter to the Corinthian congregation in the first century of our Common Era said this to them: “Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought. For the disclosure was made to me about you, my brothers, by those of the house of Chloe, that dissensions exist among you. What I mean is this, that each one of you says: ‘I belong to Paul,’ ‘But I to Apollos,’ ‘But I to Cephas,’ ‘But I to Christ.’ The Christ exists divided.” (1 Cor. 1:10-13) When Paul wrote these words the members of the congregation in Corinth were not working together in unity. Rather they were following men with the thought in mind that these men somehow deserved their allegiance at the expense of cultivating unity by all speaking in agreement and being of the same mind.
19. What did the Corinthians lose by following different men, and what really was a unifying force to them, leading us to ask what questions?
19 Paul clearly showed these Christians in Corinth that if they were to become camp followers of men, of Paul, Apollos, Cephas or others, they would sacrifice their most important strength—unity of mind and of heart. He plainly described the religious state, saying: “The Christ exists divided.” Therefore true Christian unity could not exist, since the adherents to the teaching of Christianity were divided. Paul further said to the Corinthians: “For when one says: ‘I belong to Paul,’ but another says: ‘I to Apollos,’ are you not simply men?” (1 Cor. 3:4) So to be more than simply men the Corinthian Christians, and all Christians for that matter, must work for unity of mind and heart. And what is the basis for unity? It is the “good news” that Paul said Christ dispatched him to declare. You may ask, Just what is the “good news”? What is embodied in the term and how does it promote unity of mind in all persons?
THE GOOD NEWS THAT BRINGS UNITY
20. Is the “good news” just one message necessarily?
20 In a world filled with daily reports that are bad news for so many of earth’s inhabitants the good news from God’s Word should bring happiness to earth’s inhabitants. The Bible is filled with good news and it is that good news that is a uniting force for true Christians. We can thus say the “good news” has many uniting messages. We will consider just a few of such messages as contained in God’s book of truth, the Holy Bible.
21. What is the “good news” of Genesis 3:15?
21 In Genesis 3:15 Jehovah God said to the serpent who had caused Adam and Eve to disobey his righteous command: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” The good news here was that Jehovah God would in time produce a seed that would crush the first foe of God, the serpent, the Devil, and his wicked seed. On the basis of this good news and by understanding its prophetic meaning mankind could have a hope for the future that would bring blessings instead of curses and would serve to unite all peoples.
22. What is the “good news” of Genesis 22:16-18?
22 In Genesis 22:16-18 after Abraham, “Jehovah’s friend,” had willingly made the attempt to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice, Jehovah God said: “‘By myself I do swear,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘that by reason of the fact that you have done this thing and you have not withheld your son, your only one, I shall surely bless you and I shall surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore; and your seed will take possession of the gate of his enemies. And by means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves due to the fact that you have listened to my voice.’” The “good news” to Abraham was that Jehovah made an oath-bound covenant with him that through Abraham’s seed all nations of the earth were to be blessed in due time and be united as one people. It now became more evident that the promise in Eden that God’s seed would in time be manifest was now going to come through the line of the ‘friend of God,’ Abraham.—Jas. 2:23.
23. (a) What is the “good news” of 2 Samuel 7:12, 13? (b) How was this “good news” revealed to the virgin Mary? to shepherds in a field?
23 In 2 Samuel 7:12, 13, Jehovah God made a promise to King David of Judah in these words: “When your days come to the full, and you must lie down with your forefathers, then I shall certainly raise up your seed after you, which will come out of your inward parts; and I shall indeed firmly establish his kingdom. He is the one that will build a house for my name, and I shall certainly establish the throne of his kingdom firmly to time indefinite.” The “good news” to David was that through his line of descent from Abraham there would come a permanent, everlasting heir to a righteous Kingdom. Centuries later the Bible writer Luke spoke about this “good news” in these words that the angel spoke to the virgin Mary: “You will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you are to call his name Jesus. This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:31-33) Thus with accuracy the “good news” of the seed, first spoken of in Eden and promised through Abraham and David, culminated in Jesus Christ, about whom Matthew begins his account in these words: “The book of the history of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham.” (Matt. 1:1) So it was at the birth of Jesus that the angels of heaven could rejoice and it was said by one such angelic messenger to the shepherds in that same country where Jesus was born: “Have no fear, for, look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in David’s city.” (Luke 2:10, 11) This outstanding occurrence would result, in God’s due time, in uniting humankind on a permanent basis.
24. What is the “good news” of Matthew 24:14?
24 In Matthew 24:14, just before his being taken into custody and being impaled on a torture stake in 33 C.E., Jesus told his disciples about another matter of good news: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” That kingdom was indeed good news, for it was to bring to mankind the fulfillment of all the promises that Jehovah God made, starting in Eden and carrying through to the birth, life, death, resurrection and exalting of Christ Jesus to be the King in that kingdom.
25. What three questions are now in need of being answered concerning earthwide unity?
25 Briefly, then, the good news that unites mankind earth wide has many facets and we have touched on just a few of them as they are contained in God’s Word of Truth. There is much other good news in the pages of the Bible, in the information we have from God contained in its sixty-six letters or books. But the question is, How does unity come from the “good news”? In what ways can unity be brought, about among peoples of this earth with their many national and racial divisions and varied political persuasions? And further, since mankind is in such dire need of this earthwide unity now when mankind is so badly divided and at odds with their fellowmen, when will this earthwide unity be a reality? The answers to these questions and others we leave to the following article, and we invite you to read it, along with the Bible references, which will enable you to build faith in the promises of Jehovah God for unity of mankind world wide.
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WHAT HAS BEEN THE RESULT?
8,000 PEACE TREATIES
3,000 YEARS OF WAR
268 YEARS OF PEACE