Unity Identifies True Worship
“In unity I shall set them, like a flock in the pen.”—MIC. 2:12.
1. How does creation provide evidence of God’s wisdom?
A PSALMIST exclaimed: “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.” (Ps. 104:24) God’s wisdom is evident in the interdependence of the millions of varieties of plants, insects, animals, and bacteria in earth’s amazingly complex web of life. Also, in your body, thousands of different mechanisms, from large organs to tiny molecular machines in your cells, all work together to make you a whole and healthy person.
2. As depicted on page 13, why must the unity among Christians have seemed miraculous?
2 Jehovah created mankind to be interdependent. The human race exhibits a wide variety of looks, personalities, and skills. Additionally, he endowed the first humans with godly qualities that would enable them to cooperate with each other and to depend on each other. (Gen. 1:27; 2:18) Nevertheless, the world of mankind in general is now alienated from God and has never, as a whole, been able to act in unity. (1 John 5:19) Therefore, considering that the first-century Christian congregation was composed of people as diverse as Ephesian slaves, prominent Greek women, educated Jewish men, and former idol worshippers, their unity must have seemed miraculous.—Acts 13:1; 17:4; 1 Thess. 1:9; 1 Tim. 6:1.
3. How does the Bible describe the unity of Christians, and what will we consider in this study?
3 True worship enables people to cooperate as harmoniously as the members of our own body. (Read 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13.) Some aspects we will examine in this article are: How does true worship unite people? Why is Jehovah the only one who can unify millions of people from all nations? What obstacles to unity does Jehovah help us to surmount? And as respects unity, how does true Christianity differ from Christendom?
How Does True Worship Unite People?
4. How does true worship unite people?
4 People who practice true worship recognize that because Jehovah created all things, he is the rightful Sovereign of the universe. (Rev. 4:11) So although genuine Christians live in many societies and under different circumstances, they all obey the same laws of God and live by the same Bible principles. All true worshippers properly address Jehovah as “Father.” (Isa. 64:8; Matt. 6:9) Thus, they are all spiritual brothers and can enjoy the beautiful unity described by the psalmist: “Look! How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”—Ps. 133:1.
5. What quality contributes to the unity of true worshippers?
5 Though true Christians are imperfect, they worship together in unity because they have learned to love one another. Jehovah teaches them to love as no one else can. (Read 1 John 4:7, 8.) His Word says: “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) This perfect bond of union—love—is the quality that principally identifies true Christians. From personal experience, have you not seen that this unity is a distinguishing feature of true worship?—John 13:35.
6. How does the Kingdom hope help us to enjoy unity?
6 True worshippers are also united because they look to God’s Kingdom as the only hope for mankind. They know that God’s Kingdom will shortly replace human governments and bless obedient mankind with genuine, lasting peace. (Isa. 11:4-9; Dan. 2:44) Thus, Christians heed what Jesus said about his followers: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:16) True Christians remain neutral in conflicts of the world; hence, they are able to enjoy unity even when those around them are at war.
The One Source of Spiritual Instruction
7, 8. In what way does Biblical instruction contribute to our unity?
7 First-century Christians enjoyed unity because they all received encouragement from the same source. They recognized that Jesus was teaching and directing the congregation through a governing body, composed of the apostles and older men in Jerusalem. These devoted men based their decisions on God’s Word and had traveling overseers communicate their instructions to the congregations in many lands. Concerning some such overseers, the Bible says: “As they traveled on through the cities they would deliver to those there for observance the decrees that had been decided upon by the apostles and older men who were in Jerusalem.”—Acts 15:6, 19-22; 16:4.
8 Similarly today, a Governing Body composed of spirit-anointed Christians contributes to the unity of the worldwide congregation. The Governing Body publishes spiritually encouraging literature in many languages. This spiritual food is based on God’s Word. Thus, what is taught is not from men but from Jehovah.—Isa. 54:13.
9. How does our God-given work help us to be united?
9 Christian overseers also promote unity by taking the lead in preaching. The spirit of companionship that unites those who work together in God’s service is far stronger than the spirit that unites others in the world who merely socialize together. The Christian congregation was founded, not to function as a social club, but to honor Jehovah and to get a job done—the work of preaching the good news, making disciples, and building up the congregation. (Rom. 1:11, 12; 1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 10:24, 25) Thus, the apostle Paul could say of Christians: “You are standing firm in one spirit, with one soul striving side by side for the faith of the good news.”—Phil. 1:27.
10. What are some ways in which we are united as God’s people?
10 Accordingly, as Jehovah’s people, we are united because we accept Jehovah’s sovereignty, love our brothers, hope in God’s Kingdom, and respect the ones God uses to take the lead among us. Jehovah helps us to overcome certain attitudes that because of our imperfection could otherwise threaten our unity.—Rom. 12:2.
Overcoming Pride and Jealousy
11. Why is pride divisive, and how does Jehovah help us overcome it?
11 Pride separates people. A proud person likes to consider himself superior and usually gets selfish pleasure from boasting. But this often stands in the way of unity; those who hear the boasting may become jealous. The disciple James tells us frankly: “All such taking of pride is wicked.” (Jas. 4:16) It is unloving to treat others as inferior. Remarkably, Jehovah is an example of humility in that he deals with imperfect people like us. David wrote: “It is your [God’s] humility that makes me great.” (2 Sam. 22:36) God’s Word helps us to conquer pride by teaching us to reason properly. Paul was inspired to ask: “Who makes you to differ from another? Indeed, what do you have that you did not receive? If, now, you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as though you did not receive it?”—1 Cor. 4:7.
12, 13. (a) Why is it easy to become jealous? (b) What results from adopting Jehovah’s view of others?
12 Jealousy is another common obstacle to unity. Because of inherited imperfection, we all have “a tendency to envy,” and even longtime Christians may occasionally feel jealous of the circumstances, possessions, privileges, or abilities of others. (Jas. 4:5) For example, a brother with a family might feel jealous of the privileges that a full-time minister enjoys, without realizing that the full-time minister may feel a bit jealous of the family man who has children. How can we prevent such jealousy from disrupting our unity?
13 To help us avoid jealousy, recall that the Bible compares anointed members of the Christian congregation to parts of the human body. (Read 1 Corinthians 12:14-18.) Although your eye, for example, may be more prominent than your heart, are not both valuable to you? Similarly, Jehovah values all members of the congregation even though some for a time may be more prominent than others. So let us adopt Jehovah’s view of our brothers. Rather than being jealous of others, we can show concern and personal interest in them. By doing so, we contribute to the difference between true Christians and those in the churches of Christendom.
Christendom—Marked by Division
14, 15. How did apostate Christianity become disunited?
14 The unity of true Christians stands in contrast to the strife that exists among the churches of Christendom. By the fourth century, apostate Christianity was so widespread that a pagan emperor of Rome took control of it, contributing to the development of Christendom. Then, in successive schisms, many kingdoms split from Rome and formed their own State churches.
15 Many of those kingdoms warred against one another for centuries. During the 17th and 18th centuries, people in Britain, France, and the United States promoted devotion to their State, so that nationalism, in effect, became like a religion. During the 19th and 20th centuries, nationalism began to dominate the thinking of most of mankind. Eventually, Christendom’s churches splintered into numerous sects, most of which tolerate nationalism. Churchgoers have even gone to war against fellow believers of another nation. Today, Christendom is divided by both sectarian beliefs and nationalism.
16. What sort of issues divide those in Christendom?
16 In the 20th century, some of Christendom’s hundreds of sects initiated the ecumenical movement in a push for unity. But after many decades of effort, few churches have amalgamated into one, and churchgoers are still divided on such questions as evolution, abortion, homosexuality, and the ordination of women. In some parts of Christendom, church leaders try to bring people from different sects together by downplaying previously divisive doctrines. However, downplaying doctrines leaves people with a shallow faith and certainly does not unite the divided house of Christendom.
Rising Above Nationalism
17. How was true worship foretold to unite people “in the final part of the days”?
17 Although mankind is now more horribly divided than ever, unity continues to distinguish true worshippers. God’s prophet Micah foretold: “In unity I shall set them, like a flock in the pen.” (Mic. 2:12) Micah foretold the elevation of true worship above all other forms of worship, whether of false gods or of the State as a god. He wrote: “It must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it peoples must stream. For all the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god; but we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God.”—Mic. 4:1, 5.
18. True worship has helped us to make what changes?
18 Micah also described how true worship would unite former enemies. “[People from] many nations will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ . . . And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. They will not lift up sword, nation against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.” (Mic. 4:2, 3) Those leaving the worship of man-made gods or of nations to embrace the worship of Jehovah enjoy global unity. God instructs them in the ways of love.
19. The unifying of millions of people in true worship is clear evidence of what?
19 The global unity of true Christians today is unique and is clear evidence that Jehovah continues to guide his people by means of his spirit. Individuals from all nations are being united on a scale never before seen in human history. This is in remarkable fulfillment of what is implied by Revelation 7:9, 14, and it indicates that God’s angels will soon release the “winds” that will destroy the present wicked system of things. (Read Revelation 7:1-4, 9, 10, 14.) Is it not a privilege to be united in the worldwide brotherhood? How can each of us contribute to that unity? This will be considered in the next article.
How Would You Answer?
• How does true worship unite people?
• How can we prevent jealousy from spoiling our unity?
• Why does nationalism not divide true worshippers?
[Picture on page 13]
First-century Christians came from many backgrounds
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How does your helping on Kingdom Hall projects contribute to unity?