“We are members belonging to one another.”
1, 2. What does God want for his worshippers, young and old alike?
ARE you a young person? If so, be assured that you, as a part of Jehovah’s worldwide congregation, are really appreciated. In many countries, a large number of those getting baptized are young people. How encouraging it is to see so many youths joining the ranks of those who have decided to serve Jehovah!
2 As a youth, do you enjoy being with other young people? Likely you do. A certain happiness comes from enjoying pleasant times with those of our own age. However, whether we are young or old and regardless of our background, God wants us to be united in worshipping him. The apostle Paul wrote that God’s will is that “all sorts of people should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3, 4) At Revelation 7:9, we find the description of God’s worshippers who come out of “all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.”
3, 4. (a) What spirit is common among many of today’s youths? (b) What attitude harmonizes with Ephesians 4:25?
3 What a contrast there is between young servants of Jehovah and youths of this world! Many who do not serve Jehovah lead a self-centered way of life, focusing only on what they want. Some researchers call them “Generation Me.” By the way they talk and dress, they give evidence of disdain for the older generation, whom they view as not “with it.”
4 That spirit is all around us. Thus, young servants of Jehovah find that it takes real effort to avoid it and to accept God’s view. Even in the first century, Paul found it necessary to urge fellow believers to avoid “the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” and in which they “at one time walked.” (Read Ephesians 2:1-3.) Young ones who see the need to avoid that spirit and to work unitedly with all their brothers are to be commended. Such an attitude harmonizes with Paul’s statement that “we are members belonging to one another.” (Eph. 4:25) As we approach the end of this old world, working together unitedly will become ever more important. Let us consider some Bible examples that will help us to appreciate the need for sticking together, for being united.
THEY STUCK TOGETHER
5, 6. What lesson about sticking together is clear from the account of Lot and his daughters?
5 In the past, Jehovah was pleased to protect his people when they unitedly helped one another to face distressing times. Modern-day servants of God, whether young or old, can learn from Bible examples. One such example involved Lot.
6 Lot and his family were in a perilous situation because destruction was going to come on Sodom, the city where they lived. God’s angels urged Lot to leave and to find safety in the mountainous region, saying: “Escape for your life!” (Gen. 19:12-22) Lot obeyed, and his two daughters cooperated with him in leaving the city. Sadly, others close to them did not. To the younger men who were engaged to Lot’s daughters, the older man “seemed to be joking.” That cost them their lives. (Gen. 19:14) Only Lot and his daughters, who stuck close to him, survived.
7. How did Jehovah help those who displayed a spirit of unity when the Israelites left Egypt?
7 Consider another example. When the Israelites left Egypt, they did not do so as various independent groups, each group going its own way. And when Moses “stretched out his hand over the sea” and Jehovah split the sea apart, Moses did not go through alone or with just a few of the Israelites. Rather, with Jehovah’s protection, the entire congregation passed through. (Ex. 14:21, 22, 29, 30) They displayed a spirit of unity, and they were accompanied by “a vast mixed company,” non-Israelites who sided with them. (Ex. 12:38) It is unimaginable that a few individuals, perhaps a group of young ones, would have gone off on their own, taking a route that they viewed as preferable. Would it not have been senseless to do so and miss out on Jehovah’s protection?
8. In Jehoshaphat’s day, how did God’s people manifest unity?
8 In King Jehoshaphat’s day, God’s people faced a formidable enemy, “a large crowd” from surrounding areas. (2 Chron. 20:1, 2) Commendably, God’s servants did not try to conquer the enemy in their own strength. Instead, they turned to Jehovah. (Read 2 Chronicles 20:3, 4.) And they did not do so independently, each as he saw fit or felt inclined. The Bible record tells us: “All those of Judah were standing before Jehovah, along with their little ones, their wives, and their children.” (2 Chron. 20:13) Whether young or old, they strove together in faith to follow Jehovah’s direction, and Jehovah protected them against their enemy. (2 Chron. 20:20-27) Is this not a fine example of how to face challenges as God’s people?
9. What can we learn about oneness from the actions and attitude of the early Christians?
9 The early Christians were also noted for working together. For instance, after many Jews and proselytes became Christians, they devoted themselves “to the teaching of the apostles, to associating together, to the taking of meals, and to prayers.” (Acts 2:42) This unity was especially evident during persecution, when they particularly needed one another. (Acts 4:23, 24) Do you not agree that during critical times, it is essential to work together?
UNITE AS JEHOVAH’S DAY APPROACHES
10. When will unity be particularly important?
10 One of the darkest periods in human history nears. The prophet Joel describes it as “a day of darkness and gloom.” (Joel 2:1, 2; Zeph. 1:14) For God’s people, it will be a time for unity. Recall Jesus’ words: “Every kingdom divided against itself comes to ruin.”
11. What comparison found at Psalm 122:3, 4 could be applied to God’s people today? (See opening image.)
11 During the coming time of trouble for this system, we will have to be truly united. The spiritual unity that we will need to have among ourselves could be compared to the physical proximity of houses in ancient Jerusalem. Those dwellings were built so close together that the psalmist described Jerusalem as “a city that is joined together as one.” That enabled the inhabitants to help and protect one another. Moreover, their physical closeness could well represent the spiritual unity of the whole nation when all “the tribes of Jah” assembled for worship. (Read Psalm 122:3, 4.) Today and in the critical days to come, we likewise need to remain “joined together as one.”
12. What will help us to survive the coming attack on God’s people?
12 Why will our being “joined together” be so important at that time? Ezekiel chapter 38 speaks prophetically of an attack by “Gog of the land of Magog” against God’s people. That will not be the time to let anything divide us. We will certainly not want to turn to the world for assistance. Rather, we will want to stick close to our brothers. Of course, we will not survive just because we are part of a group. Jehovah and his Son will bring those who call on Jehovah’s name safely through that calamitous time. (Joel 2:32; Matt. 28:20) Nevertheless, is it reasonable to think that those who have not maintained unity as part of God’s flock
13. What lessons can God-fearing youths learn from what we have considered so far?
13 Is it not clear, then, that it is unwise to follow the ways of youths who separate themselves into their own isolated world? We are approaching a time when we will really need one another. And that means all of us, young and old! Yes, now is the time to learn to work together, to cultivate the unity that will be so vital in the days ahead.
“MEMBERS BELONGING TO ONE ANOTHER”
14, 15. (a) With what objective in mind is Jehovah training young and old today? (b) Jehovah gives what counsel to encourage us to be united?
14 Jehovah is helping us “to serve him shoulder to shoulder.” (Zeph. 3:8, 9) He is training us to fit into his eternal purpose. What does that include? He purposes “to gather all things together in the Christ.” (Read Ephesians 1:9, 10.) Yes, he wants to unify all willing creatures throughout the universe, and he will succeed in doing this. Does that help you as a young person to see the need to work unitedly with Jehovah’s organization?
15 Jehovah is teaching us to attain unity now, with the objective of having unity forever. Again and again, the Scriptures tell us to “have mutual concern for one another,” to “have tender affection for one another,” to “keep comforting one another,” and to be “building one another up.” (1 Cor. 12:25; Rom. 12:10; 1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11) Jehovah knows that Christians are imperfect, and this may make it challenging to be united, so we need to work at “freely forgiving one another.”
16, 17. (a) What is one purpose of Christian meetings? (b) What can youths learn from Jesus’ example as a youth?
16 Jehovah also gives us Christian meetings to help us learn to stick together. We have often read the encouragement found at Hebrews 10:24, 25. One purpose of these meetings is to “consider one another so as to incite to love and fine works.” It is significant, though, that the meetings are provided so that we can be “encouraging one another, and all the more so as [we] see the day drawing near.”
17 As a youth, Jesus set a good example of appreciation for such arrangements. At the age of 12, he was with his parents at a large spiritual gathering. At one point, he was missing but not because he had wandered off to associate with other youths. Instead, Joseph and Mary found him engaged in a spiritual discussion with teachers at the temple.
18. How can our prayers contribute to unity?
18 In addition to cultivating love for one another and using Christian meetings to strengthen the bond of unity, we can pray for one another. By being specific in our requests to Jehovah in behalf of our brothers, we are reminded of our concern for one another. These are not things that only adult Christians can and should do. If you are a youth, do you take advantage of these avenues to develop a bond of closeness with your spiritual family? Doing so can help you to make certain that you are not tied to this old world when it suffers its demise.
SHOWING THAT “WE ARE MEMBERS BELONGING TO ONE ANOTHER”
19-21. (a) In what outstanding way do we show that “we are members belonging to one another”? Give examples. (b) What lesson do you learn from how some brothers responded to disasters?
19 Jehovah’s people already live in accord with the principle found at Romans 12:5: “We are members belonging to one another.” We can see proof of this when disasters strike. In December 2011, a tropical storm caused severe flooding on the Philippine island of Mindanao. Overnight, more than 40,000 homes were inundated, including dozens of our brothers’ homes. However, the branch office reports that “even before the relief committees were in operation, Christian brothers from other areas were sending help.”
20 Similarly, when a massive earthquake and resulting tsunami struck eastern Japan, many brothers and sisters suffered great losses. Some were left with virtually nothing. Yoshiko, who lost her home, lived some 25 miles (40 km) from the Kingdom Hall. She reports: “Later, we were surprised to find that the day after the earthquake, the circuit overseer and another brother had come looking for us.” With a big smile, she adds: “We really appreciated having our spiritual needs cared for so abundantly through the congregation. In addition, we received coats, shoes, bags, and pajamas.” A member of the relief committee comments: “Brothers from all over Japan were acting as one, trying to help one another. Brothers even came all the way from the United States to help. When asked why they had come such a long way, they said, ‘We are united with our brothers in Japan, and they need help.’” Are you not proud to be part of an organization that cares so much for its members? You can be sure that Jehovah is highly pleased to see such a united spirit.
21 Having that spirit now will help us to face future distresses with a united front even if we are cut off from brothers in some parts of the world. In fact, that spirit serves as training for difficulties that are very likely to confront us as this old system goes down. Fumiko, a typhoon victim in Japan, says: “The end is very close. We need to continue to assist our fellow believers as we look forward to the time when there will be no disasters.”
22. What long-term benefit can come from Christian unity?
22 Young and old who now learn to strive for unity are actually preparing to survive the end of this wicked, disunited world. As in times past, our God will deliver his people. (Isa. 52:9, 10) Bear constantly in mind that you can be among the delivered ones if you work at being part of God’s united people. Something else that will help is an increased appreciation for what we have already received. Our next article will consider that subject.