The Good News That Unites Mankind
1. What is the opposite of unity, and how does it often arise? Cite an example.
THE opposite of unity is dissension. Dissension arises when people have conflicting ideas, opposite goals, differing opinions. To unite people there must be a unifying force. The “good news” proves to be that force. At times it is possible for individuals and groups to be united by a common goal. But once the goal is reached, then diverse opinions and ideas often arise. A case in point is the space effort made to get man on the moon. By a unified action of thousands of people the feat was accomplished, and it brought worldwide acclaim. Now that the goal has been reached, diverse opinions of what should next be done have caused dissension, division and loss of unified action. A New York Times report of August 17, 1969, under the heading “Space Program, Behind the Triumph Criticism of Goals,” spoke this way: “Controversy No. 1 revolves about the question: Which astronauts should be sent on future Apollo missions, men who have backgrounds primarily as test pilots and engineers . . . or scientist-astronauts, whose primary qualification is their knowledge of geology, biology, physics and other sciences? . . . Discontent . . . has already produced the resignations of several scientist-astronauts. . . . Controversy No. 2 centers on the question: Who should control the timing of future Apollo missions and the planned activities of astronauts sent to the moon? . . . Controversy No. 3 centers about the question: For exploration of the solar system beyond the moon should the nation emphasize unmanned probes carrying cameras and other instruments or should it focus instead on a crash program to put men on Mars and return them to earth in the early 1980’s?”
2. What is the argument of some concerning dissent?
2 At this point you may say: ‘Without dissent nothing will improve. Since there is certainly no one human who knows all the answers, in order for us to make progress we must have some dissent even at the cost of unity. So how is it ever going to be possible to unite mankind? Since we are free moral agents, our future will always keep company with the disunited.’ What possible force is there that could unify all mankind? You will remember that at the close of the preceding article the point was made that the “good news” unites mankind. We invite you, therefore, to consider this matter further.
3. Due to what source can we rely on the Bible and its message of good news?
3 The Bible, God’s Word, contains good news. When one knows what that good news is and appreciates its dynamic force, one can be strengthened in one’s personal convictions that such good news can unite people of diverse national, racial and language backgrounds. This is because that good news contains good promises, not from an imperfect man or group of imperfect men—all of whom have failed miserably in bringing unity to the earth—but from the Almighty God, Jehovah, man’s Creator and Life-Sustainer.
THE ONE WHO CAN UNITE MANKIND
4. (a) In what does the “good news” build faith? (b) What good news about man’s Creator did Isaiah write? (c) Through what does unity of thought and action come?
4 The good news of the Bible builds faith, and faith is “the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Heb. 11:1) So the good news of the Bible tells about the things faith hopes in, and, further, it gives an evident demonstration of certain realities though at present some of such realities may not be seen or beheld. The good news also builds faith in the Creator of mankind. This is vital because, as pointed out above, no one human knows all the answers. The good news helps us to turn to the Source of all truth and knowledge, the One who can direct all things without anyone’s having to dissent, having to say that the method or the goal is wrong. This Great First Cause has every qualification to lead mankind in paths of righteousness. Isaiah under inspiration wrote these words of good news about Jehovah, man’s Creator: “And to whom can you people liken God, and what likeness can you put alongside him? Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. . . . Have you not come to know or have you not heard? Jehovah, the Creator of the extremities of the earth, is a God to time indefinite. He does not tire out or grow weary. There is no searching out of his understanding.” (Isa. 40:18, 26, 28) Further, Jehovah says through Isaiah: “‘For the thoughts of you people are not my thoughts, nor are my ways your ways,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isa. 55:8, 9) Unity of thought and action, then, does come through knowing and serving the Creator. So while dissent may be the course of imperfect man for improving things, such is not the course with the all-wise Creator, Jehovah, whose full understanding and knowledge cannot be fully searched out by man.
5. In what ways does God’s redemption of man through Christ serve as a uniting force?
5 The “good news” builds faith in God’s provision for man’s eternal life through Christ Jesus. The clear teachings of the Holy Scriptures show that in his mercy and tender compassion for mankind Jehovah made arrangements for redeeming fallen man from sin and death. This he did through his firstborn Son, known before his human birth as the Word or Logos. (John 1:1; Col. 1:15) This good news unites mankind in giving praise to Jehovah God for this unspeakably marvelous provision of his firstborn Son and in giving thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ for faithfully carrying out his Father’s will that results in benefit to mankind in all the earth. Is not our faith strengthened in the goodness of God and are we not united in a common determination when we consider how priceless was this provision of a ransom by God for mankind through Jesus Christ? It was Paul the apostle who said: “For, indeed, Christ, while we were yet weak, died for ungodly men at the appointed time. For hardly will anyone die for a righteous man; indeed, for the good man, perhaps, someone even dares to die. But God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:6-8) This knowledge serves to unite the beneficiaries, imperfect humankind, for it becomes their resolve to act as one in obeying the directives of the Almighty God Jehovah, Creator and Father of all mankind, and his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the provider of a release from sin and death by his ransom sacrifice.
“A PERFECT BOND OF UNION”
6. How is the quality of love a uniting factor for mankind?
6 Let us consider together the various ways that those who closely follow God’s Word work together in unity regardless of where they might live on earth, what their culture or customs may have been and what national backgrounds they have. Jesus Christ pointed to a strong factor in uniting mankind when he spoke of the good news about the love that God had for man and that man is called upon to have for God and for his fellowman. Jesus said to his followers: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Of the need for man to have this love Jesus said: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40) This type of love, principled love, is more than saying “I love you.” It is not an erotic attraction to another person. It is based on the highest principles, those enunciated in God’s book of good news, the Bible. It requires an in-depth understanding of what God’s will and purpose for mankind are and how people can act in unity and harmony in following the teachings of God’s Word.
7. How does this quality benefit Christians in their relationship to one another?
7 To illustrate the good news of this principled love that Christians are commanded to show, the apostle Paul in Colossians wrote about the attitude one must have to be pleasing to God. He said: “Accordingly, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.”—Col. 3:12-14.
SAFEGUARDED AGAINST PRACTICES THAT PRODUCE DISUNITY
8 From Paul’s comment it is readily seen that love is a perfect bond of union, resulting in a oneness, a unity or joining together of persons. Thus it can be that individuals, through the “good news,” work in the common interest of others without wrangling, disputing, bickering. Such individuals, for example, because of this perfect bond of union, which is love, live lives that are in keeping with the good news from God’s Word. Following the uniting counsel of Ephesians 5:3-5, their conduct in a moral way shows them to be striving to be upright. Paul there said: “Let fornication and uncleanness of every sort or greediness not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people; neither shameful conduct nor foolish talking nor obscene jesting, things which are not becoming, but rather the giving of thanks. For you know this, recognizing it for yourselves, that no fornicator or unclean person or greedy person—which means being an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and of God.” If all adherents to the “good news” follow this advice, then there is unity. There is no need to disregard the advice, simply saying it is some human’s direction. No, rather it is God’s direction for his people through holy spirit. For unity to prevail, then every adherent to the good news of God’s Word world wide must abide by this counsel. It does not become the prerogative of any human to say what part of this directive he will obey and what part he will ignore. Those serving Jehovah and desiring to do so unitedly recognize that they cannot set themselves up as judges of what is to be obeyed and what not obeyed. Here is the key to unity, recognizing the superior position of Jehovah and what he says through his Word. All, therefore, bear in mind Paul’s counsel in Romans 12:3: “For through the undeserved kindness given to me I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think; but to think so as to have a sound mind, each one as God has distributed to him a measure of faith.” Unity, then, comes from speaking in agreement and following the same line of thought.
9 The advice of the “good news” is not to be talking and meditating about committing fornication or becoming greedy. Watch the tongue that it does not engage in obscene jesting, and be cautious that your conduct is above reproach, above shame. Why? So that unitedly you can serve the interests of the “good news” without differences due to custom, culture or national background.
10. What further cautions are given by Paul in the letter to the Ephesians?
10 The good news of God’s Word also cautions on the matter of lying, stealing and cursing. Paul wrote: “Wherefore, now that you have put away falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, because we are members belonging to one another. Be wrathful, and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with you in a provoked state, neither allow place for the Devil. Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work, that he may have something to distribute to someone in need. Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth, but whatever saying is good for building up as the need may be, that it may impart what is favorable to the hearers.” (Eph. 4:25-29) By unified action in these fields the good news of God’s Word gives upbuilding direction to those desiring to serve Jehovah wholeheartedly.
11. How do some view lying, but why is lying a course for those causing dissension?
11 Today in many parts of the earth governments employ the technique of lying to their own people as well as to other governments. One government official said, when asked about lying, that it is the inherent right of a government “to lie to save itself.” God’s Word counsels differently: “Speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, because we are members belonging to one another.” (Eph. 4:25) Unity can come only if people speak truth with one another. Liars are deceivers. How could lying possibly produce unity that is built on a firm, long-lasting foundation? It cannot!
12. Why does stealing produce disunity?
12 Stealing produces disunity. The good news of God’s Word condemns it. According to one fact-finding organization, “white-collar” workers steal more than five million dollars in cash and merchandise each working day. Not all who steal are pagans or nonbelievers. Rather the majority have religious connections. Such ones have become a law to themselves, rejecting the good advice of God’s Word that the stealer should steal no more. To produce unity, the good news of the Holy Scriptures forbids stealing on the part of those who seek God’s blessing and favor.
13. (a) To what extent has cursing become prominent today? (b) What wise advice of the Bible do we have on this matter?
13 Cursing today seems to be the going thing, the accepted way of life for many. The theater, movies, even television, have become victims of the “four-letter words” as they are called. To be somebody, the view prevails, you have to use foul language, you have to swear. To those with such warped views the advice and counsel of the Bible indeed seem archaic, outmoded and is looked upon with disdain. Nevertheless, the counsel is that those seeking to promote unity among mankind should not even let a rotten saying proceed out of the mouth. It does not make a person a “man” or a “woman” to be able to speak rotten things. The Bible’s good counsel is that those wishing to please God and promote unity will follow this advice: “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.” (Phil. 4:8) Rotten sayings can produce rotten people. To avoid rottenness, follow the advice of Philippians 4:8. To promote unity, follow the advice of the good news of God’s Word. Shun things that would fill your mind with rotten sayings and ideas. If you feed your mind with the garbage productions of the theater, screen, television and the printed page, in time you will become a speaker of garbage or rotten sayings. Remember, the advice comes from mankind’s Creator through the working of holy spirit on men who spoke as they were moved along by such holy spirit.
14. How is unity produced by avoiding the use of abusive speech, malicious bitterness, anger, wrath and screaming?
14 The “good news” produces unity in still another field of activity. The apostle Paul wrote about it in these words: “Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you along with all badness.” (Eph. 4:31) Today’s world is filled with abusive speech, malicious bitterness, anger and wrath. Protests, riots, marches, all of these and many other forms of expression are often vitriolic in their display of displeasure with some action or lack of action on the part of another man or group of men. The advice of the disciple James, one of those entrusted with the sacred pronouncements of good news, was: “Man’s wrath does not work out God’s righteousness.” (Jas. 1:20) The good news contained in the Word of God counsels that wrath and screaming and abusive speech should not be a part of the Christian personality. Rather, Christians are admonished: “Put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” (Eph. 4:24) Unity of thought and action is assured when the good news from God is adhered to by all wanting the approval of the Creator. How wise therefore the words of James, who counseled: “Every man must be swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath.”—Jas. 1:19.
UNITED IN SUPPORT OF GOD’S KINGDOM
15. (a) How does neutrality of Christians produce unity? (b) Why does Jehovah not support one national group against another?
15 Another facet of life wherein unity is produced by those heeding the advice of the good news of God’s Word is the neutrality of Christians. Jesus Christ very plainly said of his followers: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:14) The Bible clearly shows that “to Jehovah belong the earth and that which fills it, the productive land and those dwelling in it.” (Ps. 24:1) Thus to Jehovah there are no such things as national boundaries for lands on this globe. The present divisions of this earth into various types of governments are not the work of Jehovah. He does not respect one national group above another, favor one against the other, support one to the exclusion of another. These divisions are the work of the “god of this system of things,” Satan the Devil, who offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if he would do but one act of worship before Satan. (2 Cor. 4:4; Matt. 4:8, 9) The good news of God’s Word shows that Jehovah “made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth.” (Acts 17:26) Thus God calls for those who want to serve him in unity to be neutral as to the affairs of this system of things. For such unity to prevail no matter where an individual lives, regardless of his national heritage, language, color or line of descent, that individual must be at unity with God’s people in all parts of the earth. Again, it does not depend on how an imperfect human interprets the law of God. It depends on what the Almighty First Cause, Jehovah God, decrees for man in order to have unity and the blessing of that First Cause.
16. (a) Though neutral, are Christians disobedient to rulers? (b) What guide did Jesus give them in this regard?
16 At the same time the good news of God’s Word does show that all who would be gathered together in the unity marking God’s people would be obedient to rulers and governments, never breaking up their unity by fighting to overthrow the existing system. It was Jesus himself who said: “Pay back, therefore, Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.” (Matt. 22:21) This obedience by Christians earth wide is further evidence of their unity in thought and action.
17. How does Matthew 24:14 serve as a uniting force for true Christians?
17 Added to all of these ways in which the good news of God’s Word unifies believers there is the unity that comes as a result of obeying the command at Matthew 24:14 to preach the good news of God’s kingdom in all the inhabited earth for a witness. World wide those joined together in the unity of the good news of God from his Word the Bible are also declaring a message concerning God’s kingdom that in itself is a unifying declaration. That good news serves to unite people of all races and national backgrounds in a common work, shared in by one and all without partiality.
18. When Jehovah speaks and man listens, what results?
18 So it is, in this twentieth century, that the unifying message of God’s Word is being brought to the people by word of mouth and printed page. While men may feel that without dissent nothing will improve, we can say with assurance that when the Creator of the universe, Jehovah God, speaks and people of all walks of life in all areas of the earth listen, then they can work in unity without dissent, without wrangling, without division.
19. What did Jehovah say he would do for his people, and what are you invited to do?
19 Of his people the Almighty God said in Micah 2:12: “In unity I shall set them, like a flock in the pen.” Therefore, “how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! . . . It is like the dew of Hermon that is descending upon the mountains of Zion. For there Jehovah commanded the blessing to be, even life to time indefinite.” (Ps. 133:1-3) That unity exists now and is evident in 206 lands and islands of the sea around this globe. You can be a part of such worldwide unity. We invite your close inspection of the Word of God and of the organization he is using today to bring to the people the good news that unites all mankind.