“We are members belonging to one another.”
1, 2. How does God want his people, young and old, to worship him?
ARE you a young person? If so, you can be sure that you are an important part of Jehovah’s worldwide congregation. In many countries, a large number of those getting baptized are young people. It is very encouraging to see so many young ones decide to serve Jehovah!
2 As a young person, do you enjoy spending time with others of your own age? Probably you do. We like being with friends our own age. Even so, Jehovah wants us to worship him together with all our brothers. He wants his people to be united, no matter how old they are or what their background is. The apostle Paul wrote that it is God’s will that “all sorts of people should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3, 4) And Revelation 7:9 describes those who worship God as coming from “all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.”
3, 4. (a) What attitude do many young people today have? (b) At Ephesians 4:25, how did Paul describe the congregation?
3 There is a big difference between young ones who serve Jehovah and those who do not. Many who do not serve Jehovah are interested only in themselves and in what they want. In fact, some researchers have said that young people today are more selfish than ever. The way they talk and what they wear show that they do not respect others, especially older people.
Being united will be even more important as we get closer to the end of Satan’s world
4 That attitude is everywhere, so it takes a lot of effort to avoid it and to please Jehovah. Even in the first century, Paul warned Christians about having a similar attitude. He called it “the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” (Read Ephesians 2:1-3.) It is encouraging to see young ones in the congregation who are not like that. They want to serve Jehovah with their brothers. They understand that the congregation is like a body with many parts, or members, that work together. As Paul wrote, “we are members belonging to one another.” (Ephesians 4:25) It will be even more important to be united with our brothers and sisters as we get closer to the end of Satan’s world. The following Bible examples will help us to see why we need to stick together, that is, to be united.
THEY STUCK TOGETHER
5, 6. What lesson do we learn from Lot and his family?
5 In the past, Jehovah’s people endured some very dangerous situations. Jehovah protected them when they were united and helped one another. All of us, young and old, can learn from these Bible examples. Let us see what happened to Lot.
6 Lot and his family were in danger. Jehovah was about to destroy Sodom, the city where they lived. He sent angels to warn Lot to leave the city and run to the mountains. “Escape for your life!” they told him. (Genesis 19:12-22) Lot and his two daughters obeyed the instructions. Sadly, others in Lot’s family did not. When Lot told the men who were going to marry his daughters that they needed to leave, they thought he was just an older man who “seemed to be joking.” They did not take him seriously, so they died when the city was destroyed. (Genesis 19:14) Only Lot and his two daughters survived because they were obedient and stuck together.
7. How did Jehovah help the united group of people who left Egypt?
7 We can also learn from the example of the Israelites when they left Egypt. They did not split up into small groups, with each group choosing its own way to the Promised Land. Instead, they traveled together as one united group. And when Jehovah split the waters of the Red Sea, Moses did not go through alone or with just a few of the Israelites. The whole nation went with Moses, and Jehovah protected them. (Exodus 14:21, 22, 29, 30) Even many who were not Israelites decided to serve Jehovah and left Egypt with them. All the people stuck together. (Exodus 12:38) It would have been foolish for a small group of people, maybe young ones, to go off on their own, in a direction that they thought was best. Anyone who went his own way would not have been protected by Jehovah.
8. In Jehoshaphat’s day, how were God’s people united?
8 In King Jehoshaphat’s day, a large and powerful army was coming to attack God’s people. (2 Chronicles 20:1, 2) What did the Israelites do when surrounded by this frightening enemy? They trusted in Jehovah and prayed for his guidance. (Read 2 Chronicles 20:3, 4.) Individual Israelites did not try to find a solution on their own, but they all gathered together. The Bible says: “All those of Judah were standing before Jehovah, along with their little ones, their wives, and their children.” (2 Chronicles 20:13) The whole nation, young and old, trusted in Jehovah and did what they were told. They stayed together, and Jehovah protected them from their enemies. (2 Chronicles 20:20-27) This is a good example of how God’s people can face opposition as a group.
9. What can we learn from the Christians in the first century?
9 In the first century, Christians worshipped Jehovah together in peace and harmony. For example, after many Jews and non-Jews became Christians, they all followed the teachings of the apostles. They spent time together, ate meals together, and prayed together. (Acts 2:42) And when Christians were persecuted, they remained united. That was when they needed one another the most. (Acts 4:23, 24) When we are persecuted, we too must be united and support one another.
UNITED BEFORE JEHOVAH’S DAY COMES
10. When will we need to be united more than ever?
10 Very soon, we will face the most difficult time in human history. The prophet Joel describes it as “a day of darkness and gloom.” (Joel 2:1, 2; Zephaniah 1:14) At that time, God’s people will need to be united more than ever. Remember Jesus’ words: “Every kingdom divided against itself comes to ruin.”
11. What can God’s people learn about unity from Psalm 122:3, 4? (See opening picture.)
11 How united will we need to be? We can learn a lesson from the way the houses were built in ancient Jerusalem. They were built so close together that the psalmist described the city as being “joined together as one.” The people felt secure because they lived so close together and could easily help and protect one another. The closeness of the houses may also have reminded the psalmist of the tribes of Israel when they gathered as one nation to worship Jehovah. (Read Psalm 122:3, 4.) Now and in the difficult days to come, it is very important that Jehovah’s people remain “joined together as one.”
Jehovah’s purpose is to unite all those in heaven and on earth as one family who worships him
12. What will help us to survive when Gog attacks Jehovah’s people?
12 Why will our unity be so important in the future? Ezekiel chapter 38 prophesies that “Gog of the land of Magog” will attack Jehovah’s people. That will not be the time to let anything divide us. It would also be a huge mistake to think that Satan’s world will protect us. Instead, we will need to stick close to our brothers. Of course, we will not survive just because we are part of a group. We must personally trust in Jehovah and obey him. Then Jehovah and Jesus will bring us safely through that attack and into the new world. (Joel 2:32; Matthew 28:20) But we must also remain united with God’s people. Do you think that Jehovah will save those who decide to go their own way?
13. What lessons can young ones learn from the examples we have discussed?
13 If you are a young person, can you see how wise it is to stay close to your brothers? Fight the tendency to spend time with only those your own age or to distance yourself from the people around you. Soon all of us, young and old, will need one another more than ever. Strengthen your friendships with your brothers and sisters now, and enjoy serving Jehovah with them. In the future, being united with Jehovah’s people will save your life!
“MEMBERS BELONGING TO ONE ANOTHER”
14, 15. (a) Why is Jehovah training us to be united? (b) What counsel does Jehovah give us so that we can be united?
14 Jehovah is helping us “to serve him shoulder to shoulder” with our brothers and sisters. (Zephaniah 3:8, 9) He is training us for the future when he will “gather all things together in the Christ.” (Read Ephesians 1:9, 10.) Jehovah’s purpose is to unite all those in heaven and on earth as one family who worships him. And there is no doubt that Jehovah will do this. Young ones, you can be part of that family forever. Do you want to be united with Jehovah’s organization?
15 Jehovah is training us to be united now so that we can live peaceably with one another in the new world. He patiently teaches 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 Corinthians 12:25; Romans 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11) Jehovah knows that because we are imperfect, it is not always easy for us to be united. That is why he tells us to keep on “forgiving one another.”
16, 17. (a) What is one reason we have our meetings? (b) What can young ones learn from Jesus’ example?
16 Another way Jehovah helps us learn to stick together is by means of the meetings. Hebrews 10:24, 25 reminds us that one reason we meet together is to encourage one another to do what is good. And we will need our meetings more and more as we get closer to Jehovah’s day.
17 Jesus is a good example for us because he enjoyed meeting with Jehovah’s people. When he was 12 years old, he went with his parents to a large meeting at the temple. At one point, Jesus’ parents could not find him. Did he leave to spend time with other young people? No. When his parents found him, Jesus was with the teachers at the temple, talking about the Scriptures.
18. How can prayer strengthen our unity?
18 We can also strengthen our unity by praying for our brothers and asking Jehovah to help them in specific ways. Praying for our brothers will remind us of how much we care about them. It is important to love our brothers, to encourage them at our meetings, and to pray for them. Young ones, have you tried doing these things so that you can become better friends with those in your congregation? To survive when the end comes, we will need to be close to our brothers, not to Satan’s world.
SHOWING THAT “WE ARE MEMBERS BELONGING TO ONE ANOTHER”
19-21. (a) What are we moved to do because “we are members belonging to one another”? Give examples. (b) What do you learn from the way our brothers help one another during disasters?
19 Many examples show that Jehovah’s people today “are members belonging to one another.” (Romans 12:5) When disasters cause our brothers to suffer, we feel for them and want to help them. In December 2011, a tropical storm struck the island of Mindanao, in the Philippines. In one night, more than 40,000 homes were flooded, including many of our brothers’ homes. The branch office reported that even before any help arrived from local relief committees, “Christian brothers from other areas were sending help.”
20 In Japan, our brothers suffered terribly when a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the eastern part of the country. Many were left with nothing. For example, Yoshiko lost her home. She lived far from the Kingdom Hall, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) away. She says: “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.’” Do you feel proud to be part of an organization in which people truly love one another? Just imagine how pleased Jehovah must be to see such unity.
21 If we learn to depend on one another now, we will be prepared to face difficult situations together in the future. Even if we lose contact with our brothers in other parts of the world, we will remain united with our local brothers. A sister in Japan named Fumiko, who survived a typhoon, 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. How will our unity help us in the future?
22 Prepare now for Jehovah’s day by doing all you can to be united with your brothers. When Satan’s wicked world is destroyed, Jehovah will save his people just as he did in the past. (Isaiah 52:9, 10) Whether you are young or old, you need to remain united with God’s people to be saved. In the next article, we will discuss why we also need to be thankful for what we have already received.