“No Part of the World”
“The world has hated them, because they are no part of the world.”—JOHN 17:14.
What It Means: Being no part of the world, Jesus was neutral in the social and political conflicts of the day. “If my kingdom were part of this world,” he explained, “my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.” (John 18:36) He also urged his followers to shun attitudes, speech, and conduct condemned in God’s Word.—Matthew 20:25-27.
How Early Christians Measured Up: According to religion writer Jonathan Dymond, the early Christians “refused to engage in [war]; whatever were the consequences, whether reproach, or imprisonment, or death.” They chose to suffer rather than compromise their neutral stand. Their moral code also set them apart. Christians were told: “Because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you.” (1 Peter 4:4) Historian Will Durant wrote that Christians “were troubling the pleasure-mad pagan world with their piety and their decency.”
Who Fit the Pattern Today? Regarding Christian neutrality, the New Catholic Encyclopedia asserts: “Conscientious objection is morally indefensible.” An article in the Reformierte Presse states that a report by African Rights, a human rights organization, on the 1994 Rwandan genocide established the participation of all churches, “with the exception of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Discussing the Nazi Holocaust, a high-school teacher lamented that “no group or organization of regular citizens spoke out against the mass of lies, cruelty, and eventual atrocities.” After consulting with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, he wrote: “I now had my answer.” He learned that Jehovah’s Witnesses stood firm in their beliefs in spite of the harsh treatment they received.
What about their moral code? “The majority of today’s young adult Catholics disagree with church teachings on issues like cohabitation [and] premarital sex,” says U.S. Catholic magazine. The journal quotes a church deacon, who said: “A great percentage I see—I’d guess it’s well over 50 percent—are already living together when they come to be married.” The New Encyclopædia Britannica observes that Jehovah’s Witnesses “insist upon a high moral code in personal conduct.”