United in the Perfect Bond of Love
“Be harmoniously joined together in love.”—COLOSSIANS 2:2.
1, 2. What divisive influence is being felt especially today?
LISTEN! A loud voice echoing throughout heaven saying: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:12) With the passing of each year, that message becomes increasingly ominous for earth’s inhabitants.
2 Jehovah’s great adversary has long been known as a resister (Satan) and a slanderer (Devil). But this deceiver now has taken on another sinister role—he has become an angry god! Why? Because he was thrown out of heaven by Michael and his angels in the war that began in heaven in 1914. (Revelation 12:7-9) The Devil knows that he has only a short time to prove his challenge that he can turn all men aside from worshiping God. (Job 1:11; 2:4, 5) Having nowhere to turn for escape, he and his demons are like an angry swarm of bees that vent their rage on the restless masses of mankind.—Isaiah 57:20.
3. What has been the effect of Satan’s being debased in our time?
3 These happenings, unseen to human eyes, explain why there is now a general moral breakdown among mankind. They also explain men’s frantic efforts to patch up the fragmenting of nations that simply cannot live in harmony. Tribal and ethnic groups viciously attack one another, producing millions of homeless and displaced people. No wonder lawlessness is increasing on an unprecedented scale! As Jesus foretold, ‘the love of the greater number of mankind is cooling off.’ Everywhere you look, disharmony and lovelessness mark today’s restless humanity.—Matthew 24:12.
4. Why are God’s people in special danger?
4 In view of the world situation, Jesus’ prayer for his followers takes on deeper significance: “I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one. They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:15, 16) Today, “the wicked one” especially vents his anger against those “who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17) Were it not for Jehovah’s watchful and loving care, his faithful Witnesses would be wiped out. Our lives depend on our taking advantage of all the provisions that God makes for our spiritual safety and welfare. That involves our exerting ourselves in accord with the operation of His power through Christ, as the apostle urged at Colossians 1:29.
5, 6. How did the apostle Paul feel about the Colossian Christians, and why is the theme text for 1995 appropriate?
5 Although Paul likely had never seen them face-to-face, he loved his brothers in Colossae. He told them: “I wish you could understand how deep is my anxiety for you.” (Colossians 2:1, The New Testament in Modern English, by J. B. Phillips) Since Jesus’ followers are no part of the world, “the wicked one” would keep trying to break the unity of the brothers by sowing among them the spirit of the world. The news Epaphras brought from Colossae indicated that this had been taking place to some extent.
6 One of Paul’s principal interests for his Christian brothers could be summed up in the words: “Be harmoniously joined together in love.” His words have special meaning today, in a world filled with disunity and lovelessness. If we take to heart Paul’s advice, we will enjoy Jehovah’s care. We will also experience the power of his spirit in our life, helping us to resist the pressures of the world. How wise this counsel is! Thus, Colossians 2:2 will be our theme text for 1995.
7. What harmony should be found among true Christians?
7 In an earlier letter to the Corinthians, the apostle used the human body as an illustration. He wrote that “there should be no division” in the congregation of anointed Christians but that “its members should have the same care for one another.” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 24, 25) What a marvelous illustration! Our limbs are interdependent, each joined to the rest of our body. The same applies to our worldwide association of brothers, made up of anointed ones and millions hoping to live on a paradise earth. We must not sever ourselves from the body of fellow Christians to live independently! Operating through Christ Jesus, God’s spirit flows to us in great measure through our association with our brothers.
Harmony in Line With Knowledge
8, 9. (a) What is fundamental to our contributing to harmony in the congregation? (b) How have you gained knowledge about Christ?
8 One of Paul’s key points was that Christian harmony is linked to knowledge, particularly that concerning Christ. Paul wrote that Christians should “be harmoniously joined together in love and with a view to all the riches of the full assurance of their understanding, with a view to an accurate knowledge of the sacred secret of God, namely, Christ.” (Colossians 2:2) We have taken in knowledge—facts—since we began to study God’s Word. As part of gaining an understanding of how many of these facts fit in God’s purpose, we see the crucial role of Jesus. “Carefully concealed in him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.”—Colossians 2:3.
9 Is that how you feel about Jesus and his role in God’s purpose? Many in Christendom are quick to mention Jesus, claiming to have accepted him and to have been saved. But do they really know him? Hardly, for most believe the unscriptural Trinity doctrine. Not only do you know the truth in this regard but you likely have quite a broad knowledge of what Jesus said and did. Millions have been helped in this by an informative study using the book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived. Yet we need to keep deepening our knowledge of Jesus and his ways.
10. In what way is concealed knowledge available to us?
10 The statement that “all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge” are “carefully concealed” in Jesus does not mean that such knowledge is beyond our grasp. Rather, it is somewhat like an open mine. We do not have to hunt around a vast area wondering where to start digging. We already know—real knowledge begins with what the Bible reveals about Jesus Christ. As we appreciate more fully Jesus’ role in the outworking of Jehovah’s purpose, we obtain the treasures of true wisdom and accurate knowledge. So what we need is to dig ever deeper, lifting out more of the gems or precious things available from this source where we already have dug.—Proverbs 2:1-5.
11. How may we increase our knowledge and wisdom by meditating on Jesus? (Illustrate with Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet, or use other examples.)
11 For example, we may know that Jesus washed the feet of his apostles. (John 13:1-20) Have we, though, meditated on the lesson he was teaching and the attitude he displayed? Doing so, we might draw up a treasure of wisdom that enables us—yes, moves us—to alter how we deal with a brother or a sister whose personality has long irritated us. Or when given an assignment that is not quite to our liking, we may respond differently once we get the rich sense of John 13:14, 15. That is how the knowledge and wisdom affect us. What might be the effect on others as we more closely pattern ourselves on increased knowledge of Christ? Probably the flock will ‘be more harmoniously joined together in love.’*
Distraction Can Damage Harmony
12. Concerning what knowledge do we need to be on guard?
12 If accurate knowledge facilitates our ‘being harmoniously joined together in love,’ what results from that which is “falsely called ‘knowledge’”? Just the opposite—controversy, discord, and deviation from the faith. So we must guard against such false knowledge, as Paul warned Timothy. (1 Timothy 6:20, 21) Paul also wrote: “This I am saying that no man may delude you with persuasive arguments. Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.”—Colossians 2:4, 8.
13, 14. (a) Why were the Colossian brothers at risk in regard to knowledge? (b) Why might some today feel that they are not at similar risk?
13 The Colossian Christians were surrounded by the insidious influence of what amounted to falsely called knowledge. Many people in and around Colossae highly esteemed Greek philosophies. There were also Judaizers who wanted Christians to keep the Mosaic Law, such as its festival days and food requirements. (Colossians 2:11, 16, 17) Paul was not against his brothers’ gaining true knowledge, but they needed to look out that no one would carry them off as prey, using persuasive arguments to convince them to assume a mere human outlook on life and actions. You can appreciate that if some in the congregation let their thinking and decisions be guided by such unscriptural concepts and approaches to life, it would work against harmony and love between congregation members.
14 ‘Yes,’ you might think, ‘I see the danger the Colossians faced, but I’m not at risk of being influenced by Greek concepts, such as that of an immortal soul or a trinitarian god; nor do I see any danger of being enticed by the pagan holidays of the false religion that I escaped.’ Fine. It is good to be resolved on the superiority of the simple truth revealed through Jesus and available in the Scriptures. Might it be, however, that we are at risk from other philosophies or human views prevalent today?
15, 16. What outlook on life might affect a Christian’s thinking?
15 One such attitude has long been around: “Where now is the promise of his coming? Our fathers have been laid to their rest, but still everything continues exactly as it has always been.” (2 Peter 3:4, The New English Bible) That sentiment may be formed in other words, but the outlook is the same. For instance, someone might reason, ‘When I first learned the truth decades ago, the end was “right around the corner.” But it still isn’t here, and who knows when it will come?’ Granted, no man knows when the end will arrive. Yet, notice the viewpoint Jesus urged: “Keep looking, keep awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is.”—Mark 13:32, 33.
16 How dangerous it would be to adopt the view that, not knowing when the end will come, we should plan for a full and “normal” life! That approach could be reflected in the reasoning, ‘I might as well take steps that will permit me (or my children) to have a respectable career that pays very well and will enable me to enjoy a comfortable life. Of course, I will attend Christian meetings and have some share in the preaching work, but there’s no reason for me to exert myself or make great sacrifices.’—Matthew 24:38-42.
17, 18. What view did Jesus and the apostles urge us to have?
17 There is no denying, however, that Jesus and his apostles recommended our living with a sense of urgency about getting the good news preached, exerting ourselves and being willing to make sacrifices. Paul wrote: “This I say, brothers, the time left is reduced. Henceforth let those who have wives be as though they had none, . . . and those who buy as those not possessing, and those making use of the world as those not using it to the full; for the scene of this world is changing.”—1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Luke 13:23, 24; Philippians 3:13-15; Colossians 1:29; 1 Timothy 4:10; 2 Timothy 2:4; Revelation 22:20.
18 Far from suggesting that we make a comfortable life our goal, Paul wrote under inspiration: “We have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things. . . . Fight the fine fight of the faith, get a firm hold on the everlasting life for which you were called and you offered the fine public declaration in front of many witnesses.”—1 Timothy 6:7-12.
19. How is a congregation affected when those in it accept the view of life that Jesus encouraged?
19 When a congregation is made up of zealous Christians who intensely strive to ‘offer a fine public declaration,’ harmony is natural. They do not give in to the attitude, ‘You have many good things laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.’ (Luke 12:19) Rather, they are united in the same effort, willing to make sacrifices to have as full a share as possible in this never-to-be-repeated work.—Compare Philippians 1:27, 28.
Careful About Persuasive Arguments
20. What is another area in which Christians might be misled?
20 There are, of course, other ways in which Christians might be ‘deluded with persuasive arguments’ or empty deceptions that interfere with ‘being harmoniously joined in love.’ The office of the Watch Tower Society in Germany wrote: “One case led to controversy, publishers and even elders taking sides over types of therapy employed by a brother.” They added: “Because of the wide variety of methods used and the large number of patients, this is an area that is open to controversy and, if therapeutic methods have spiritistic undertones, may invite danger.”—Ephesians 6:12.
21. How might a Christian lose the right focus today?
21 Christians want to remain alive and healthy so that they can worship God. Nevertheless, in this system we are subject to aging and sickness that result from imperfection. Rather than stress health issues, we ought to concentrate on the real solution, for us and for others. (1 Timothy 4:16) Christ is the focal point of that solution, even as he was the focus of Paul’s counsel to the Colossians. But remember, Paul indicated that some may come with “persuasive arguments” turning our attention away from Christ, perhaps toward diagnostic methods, treatments, or diets.—Colossians 2:2-4.
22. What balanced attitude should we have as to the numerous claims concerning methods of diagnosis and treatment?
22 People around the globe are barraged by advertisements and testimonials about all sorts of treatments and means of diagnosis. Some of those are widely used and recognized; others are widely criticized or subject to suspicion.* Each person is responsible to determine what he will do concerning his health. But those who accept Paul’s counsel found at Colossians 2:4, 8 will have protection against being deluded by “persuasive arguments” or “empty deceptions” that lead astray many who, lacking the Kingdom hope, are desperate for relief. Even if a Christian is convinced that a certain treatment seems good for him, he should not promote this in the Christian brotherhood, for it could become a subject of widespread discussion and controversy. He thus can manifest that he highly respects the importance of harmony in the congregation.
23. Why do we especially have cause for joy?
23 Paul stressed that Christian harmony is a basis for real joy. In his day the number of congregations was certainly smaller than today. Yet he could write to the Colossians: “Though I am absent in the flesh, all the same I am with you in the spirit, rejoicing and beholding your good order and the firmness of your faith toward Christ.” (Colossians 2:5; see also Colossians 3:14.) How much greater our cause for rejoicing! We may see real evidence of harmony, good order, and firmness of faith in our own congregation, which reflects the general situation of God’s people earth wide. So in the short remaining time in the present system, let each of us be determined to “be harmoniously joined together in love.”
While the possibilities are almost endless, from the following examples, see what you personally can learn about Jesus that could contribute to harmony in your congregation: Matthew 12:1-8; Luke 2:51, 52; 9:51-55; 10:20; Hebrews 10:5-9.
Did You Note?
□ What is the 1995 yeartext for Jehovah’s Witnesses?
□ Why did the Colossian Christians need to be harmoniously joined in love, and why do we today?
□ What insidious outlook on life do Christians especially need to be on guard against today?
□ Why should Christians be alert not to be misled by persuasive arguments concerning health and means of diagnosis?
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Do your plans for the future center on Jesus’ presence?