Genuine Christianity—Can It Be Found?
THERE is widespread dislike of Christianity among people in the non-Christian nations. One reason for this is that missionaries of Christendom’s religions have often spearheaded the commercial and political exploitation of these nations. In one island there is a saying: ‘The missionaries taught us to say grace, and while we had our heads bowed they stole the land.’
Even in the so-called Christian nations many persons have lost respect for Christianity because the clergy, as a class, have brought reproach upon God and the Bible by failing to practice what they preach. Also, people have found that what the clergy teach is often contrary to good sense, justice and righteousness.
Consequently, many persons seriously doubt that there is a genuine Christianity. They ask, Can genuine Christianity be found? If so, where and how?
A BASIS FOR IDENTIFICATION
Jesus Christ, when on earth, practiced righteousness and turned people toward the pure worship of God. (John 4:23, 24) He pointed out how true worship can be identified. He said, when speaking about false teachers that would arise:
“By their fruits you will recognize them. Never do people gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles, do they? Likewise every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit; a good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.”—Matt. 7:15-20.
God’s judgment will indeed fall on hypocritical teachers of falsehood that defame his name. But if we see good fruitage, then we know that the source is good. We can recognize true worship.
A Bible prophecy given many years ago illustrates that in this very time in which we live thousands of persons would identify true Christianity and would come into an approved relationship with God. They would become his true people, with a hope of living on earth under a righteous government, the kingdom of God. This is a prophecy given about the ancient city of Jerusalem after a small remnant of about 50,000 Jews had been repatriated from exile in Babylon. For seventy years prior to that time, Jerusalem had lain desolate. Now its population was small compared to what it had once been, but God said, encouragingly:
“This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘It will yet be that peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will come; and the inhabitants of one city will certainly go to those of another, saying: “Let us earnestly go to soften the face of Jehovah and to seek Jehovah of armies. I myself will go also.” And many peoples and mighty nations will actually come to seek Jehovah of armies in Jerusalem and to soften the face of Jehovah.’”—Zech. 8:20-22.
It is true that Jerusalem did flourish and was still an important city for more than five hundred years after that. But the more significant fulfillment of the prophecy comes in our time, because, as the apostle Paul says, the things that occurred with Israel were examples for “us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.” (1 Cor. 10:11) And the same apostle tells us: “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.”—Rom. 15:4.
Furthermore, the Bible’s last book, Revelation, describes “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” who would appear in this world’s time of the end, and who would worship God sincerely as believers in the “Lamb of God,” Jesus Christ.—Rev. 7:9, 10; John 1:29.
TEN COME TO JOIN ONE
Accordingly, we today can expect to find people living according to true Christianity, producing good fruits of righteousness, justice, love and peace. The prophet Zechariah goes on to say: “It will be in those days that ten men out of all the languages of the nations will take hold, yes, they will actually take hold of the skirt of a man who is a Jew, saying: ‘We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you.’”—Zech. 8:23.
Who is the “man who is a Jew”? In this connection, the words of the apostle Paul are of interest: “He is not a Jew who is one on the outside, nor is circumcision that which is on the outside upon the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one on the inside, and his circumcision is that of the heart by spirit.”—Rom. 2:28, 29.
Now, when we look around today, who are really making an effort to preach Bible truth and to practice true Christian living? Who, as a group, are working hard to help others to understand God’s provision of a cleaner, happier life now and of everlasting life on earth under his Kingdom rule by Christ? Who have been joined by a figurative “ten men,” that is, have had even literally a tenfold increase in numbers of those going along with them because ‘they see that God is with them’? Certainly the organized religions of Christendom do not see such a tenfold increase. There are now more than 900 million professed Christians belonging to the churches of Christendom. If such a tenfold influx came into their ranks, it would amount to more than twice the earth’s population.
No, the religious sects of Christendom are not enjoying spiritual prosperity. But consider the anointed remnant of spiritual Jews. They make every effort to help as many people as possible to learn the Bible’s truth. More important than the number of people associating with them is the fact that those people have cleaned up their lives and made great changes to live by Christian principles. This fact is quite widely acknowledged. In recent years, the remnant have also enjoyed much more than a tenfold addition to their ranks.
Those who say to the anointed remnant of spiritual Jews, “We will go with you people,” do it for what reason? Because, as they say to the remnant: “We have heard that God is with you people.” (Zech. 8:23) They have heard—from friends, neighbors, workmates—of the happiness of the spiritual “Jew” class, of the unified families of those going along with that class and of their knowledge of the Bible with its answers to the problems of life. Furthermore, they have particularly observed one of the “fruits” that Jesus said would characterize his followers. He told these: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:35.
This love is not the inherent possession of those who have long served as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. The spiritual Jews, like the “ten men” now associating with them, first required help from earlier spiritual Jews, just as the newly converted Christians of the first century at Jerusalem “continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles.” (Acts 2:42) Those first-century anointed Christians knew that they needed to study the Bible to come closer to God, to establish a relationship with him. They needed to ‘make their minds over’ and to “put on the new personality” that the Bible describes.—Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:22-24.
So today the figurative “ten men out of all the languages of the nations” now “go with” God’s spiritual ‘Jews’ because they are seeking to come into favorable relations with God. They “go with” these anointed ones by giving them wholehearted support. Has the prophecy really been true as to a tenfold number of these being added to the spiritual remnant? Yes. In the year 1918 there were some thousands of dedicated Bible Students actively proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom, world wide. In 1947, 207,552 witnesses of Jehovah reported activity—manifold times as many. And in 1974 there were more than two million of the international “ten men” class who were saying: “We will go with you people.” This last tenfold increase took place in just twenty-seven years.
“WE HAVE HEARD THAT GOD IS WITH YOU”
An example of the attitude of these figurative “ten men” and what attracts them to “take hold of the skirt of a man who is a [spiritual] Jew” is seen in the experience of a young woman in the state of Virginia, United States of America.
This young woman was impressed by a discussion of the Bible that she had with one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Though she felt guilty because of a wrong way of life that she was pursuing at the time, the things that she learned and the patience of the Witness who was helping her moved her to continue her discussions. She was introduced to others of Jehovah’s witnesses who had formerly experienced similar doubts and feelings of guilt. Their love and patience in helping her convinced her that God was truly with these people. The changes she made in her life attracted others, as she relates:
The man I work for is physically disabled. He was a ‘tough cookie,’ having developed an independent attitude while young. He had found his religion to be hypocritical. The change in my personality was so apparent to him that he began to listen to what I was saying about the Bible to a girl workmate. I answered many of his questions. Finally he came to a meeting of the Witnesses. He developed enough knowledge and appreciation to try to change what he thought was wrong, including the smoking habit. He became a milder-tempered man. Now he and his wife are studying the Bible, attending the meetings of the Witnesses and are trying to restore harmony to the family.
These people have found and identified true Christianity in a world where the question is often asked, Can genuine Christianity be found? If you are a seeker for right principles and for “promise of the life now and that which is to come”—a better life in a peaceful paradise earth—then look for the identifying marks of Christ’s disciples and, having found them, say, “We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.”—1 Tim. 4:8; Zech. 8:23.