“They are no part of the world.”
SONGS: 63, 129
1, 2. (a) What is the connection between being loyal to Jehovah and not taking sides in this world’s conflicts? (See opening picture.) (b) What are many people loyal to, but what is the result?
SERVANTS of Jehovah are neutral and do not get involved in the issues that divide people, such as nationality, race, or culture. Why? Because we love Jehovah, we are loyal to him, and we obey him. (1 John 5:3) No matter where we live or where we are from, we follow God’s standards. Loyalty to Jehovah and to his Kingdom is more important than anything else. (Matthew 6:33) This is why we can say that we are “no part of the world.”
2 Many people in the world today are loyal to their country, tribe, or culture, or even to their sports team. Sadly, this has resulted in many of them competing with one another, hating one another, and at times killing those who are loyal to the opposing side. Even though we do not take part in these conflicts, they can affect us and our family, and we may suffer terrible injustice. It could be very easy to take sides if governments make unfair decisions, because God made us with the ability to know whether things are fair or not. (Genesis 1:27; Deuteronomy 32:4) How do you feel when something unfair happens? Are you able to stay neutral, or do you take sides?
True Christians do not think that one part of Satan’s world is better than another
3, 4. (a) Why do we not take sides when there are conflicts? (b) What will we discuss in this article?
3 Many people take sides when there are conflicts because governments convince them that this is what good citizens should do. But we follow Jesus. So we do not get involved in politics, and we do not go to war. (Matthew 26:52) True Christians do not think that one part of Satan’s world is better than another. (2 Corinthians 2:11) We want nothing to do with the conflicts of this world.
4 Because we are imperfect, some of us might still have negative feelings about people who are different from us. (Jeremiah 17:9; Ephesians 4:22-24) In this article, we will learn principles that will help us to fight against and overcome those feelings that divide people. We will also discuss how we can be loyal to the Kingdom by training ourselves to think the way Jehovah and Jesus do.
WHY WE DO NOT SUPPORT ANY PART OF THE WORLD
5, 6. When Jesus was on earth, how did he view the different groups of people, and why?
5 When you find it hard to stay neutral and not take sides, ask yourself, ‘What would Jesus have done?’ When Jesus was on earth, there were conflicts and disagreements between people from Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. Think of some examples. The Jews and the Samaritans did not speak to one another. (John 4:9) The Pharisees and the Sadducees disagreed on many things. (Acts 23:6-9) Jews who had studied the Law thought that they were better than those who had not. (John 7:49) And many hated the tax collectors and the Romans. (Matthew 9:11) But Jesus did not take part in these conflicts. Although he always defended the truth about Jehovah and knew that Israel was God’s special nation, he never taught his disciples that they were better than others. (John 4:22) Instead, he taught them to love all people.
Jehovah and Jesus do not think that one race, nationality, or language is better than another
6 Why did Jesus not view any group of people as superior? Because of how he and his Father feel about people. Jehovah created humans so that they would fill the earth with a variety of races. (Genesis 1:27, 28) So Jehovah and Jesus do not think that one race, nationality, or language is better than another. (Acts 10:34, 35; Revelation 7:9, 13, 14) We must follow their perfect example.
7, 8. (a) Whose side do we take, and why? (b) What must we remember about the solution to mankind’s problems?
7 Why do we not support any human ruler or government? Because we take Jehovah’s side. He is our Ruler. In Eden, Satan said that Jehovah was not the best ruler for humans. Satan wanted humans to believe that his way of doing things was better than God’s. Jehovah lets us decide for ourselves whose side we want to be on. But what about you? Do you obey Jehovah because you believe that his way of doing things is better than your way? Are you convinced that only his Kingdom can solve our problems? Or do you think that people can rule themselves successfully without God?
8 For example, if someone asks you what you think about a certain political party, activist group, or other similar organization, how will you answer? Some of these groups may be sincere and want to help people. But we realize that only Jehovah’s Kingdom can solve mankind’s problems and remove all injustice. We also follow Jehovah’s direction in the congregation, instead of each person doing what he thinks is best. That is why the congregation is united.
9. What problem did some Christians in the first century have, and what did they need to do?
9 In the first century, some Christians in Corinth were arguing with one another and saying: “‘I belong to Paul,’ ‘But I to Apollos,’ ‘But I to Cephas,’ ‘But I to Christ.’” When Paul found out about this, he was shocked. This was a very serious problem, because the peace of the congregation was in danger. So he asked his brothers and sisters: “Is the Christ divided?” Paul counseled them: “I urge you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you should all speak in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you may be completely united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” The same is true today. There should not be any divisions in the congregation.
10. Paul reminded Christians of what, and what do we learn from that?
10 Paul reminded anointed Christians that they are citizens of heaven and that they should not focus on “earthly things.” (Philippians 3:17-20) * (See footnote.) The anointed are ambassadors who represent God and Christ. When an ambassador is in a foreign country, he does not get involved in its problems and politics. In a similar way, it would not be right for the anointed to get involved in the problems and politics of the world. (2 Corinthians 5:20) Those who hope to live forever on earth are also loyal to the Kingdom and do not take sides in this world’s conflicts.
TRAIN YOURSELF TO BE LOYAL TO JEHOVAH’S KINGDOM
11, 12. (a) What attitudes should we avoid if we want to remain loyal to God’s Kingdom? (b) How did one sister feel about some people, and what helped her to change?
11 In most parts of the world, people feel a special connection with those who have the same history, culture, and language as they do. They are often very proud of the place they come from. But we must not let these attitudes affect us. Instead, we have to change the way we think and we need to train our conscience so that we remain neutral in all circumstances. How can we do this?
12 For example, Mirjeta * (see footnote) was born in the country that used to be called Yugoslavia. In the area where she grew up, people hated Serbians. When she learned about Jehovah, she realized that he does not favor one ethnic group over another and that Satan wants people to hate one another. So she tried hard to change the way she felt. But when a war started between various ethnic groups in the area where she lived, Mirjeta started to have negative feelings about Serbians again. She did not even want to preach to them. She knew this was wrong, so she begged Jehovah to help her stop feeling this way. She also asked him to help her start pioneering. Mirjeta says: “I have found that focusing on the ministry is the best help ever. In the ministry, I try to imitate Jehovah’s loving personality, and I have seen my negative feelings melt away.”
13. (a) What happened to Zoila, and how did she react? (b) What can we learn from Zoila’s experience?
13 Zoila is a sister from Mexico who moved to Europe. In her congregation, there are brothers and sisters from another part of Latin America. Zoila says that some of them made fun of the country she was from, its customs, and its music. She was upset, so she prayed to Jehovah to help her not to feel offended. How would we have reacted if we were in her situation? Some of our brothers and sisters are still struggling to control their emotions when they hear negative comments about the place they are from. So we would never want to say or do anything that makes one group of people seem better than another. We do not want to cause divisions in the congregation or anywhere else.
Ask Jehovah to help you feel the same way he does about people
14. What can help you to think about people the way Jehovah does?
14 We all know that servants of Jehovah are united as one people, so we must never feel that one place or country is superior to another. But your family and those you grew up around might have influenced you to love the place where you come from. So perhaps at times you still think negatively about people of other nations, cultures, languages, or races. What can help you change? Meditate on how Jehovah feels about people who are proud of their country or who think they are better than others. Do more research on this subject during your personal study or family worship. Then ask Jehovah to help you feel the same way he does about people.
15, 16. (a) How will some react because we are different? (b) How can parents help their children to remain loyal to Jehovah?
15 We want to serve Jehovah with a good conscience, so at times we will stand out as very different from our workmates, classmates, neighbors, or relatives. (1 Peter 2:19) Jesus warned us that others will even hate us because we are different. Remember that most of those who oppose us do not know about God’s Kingdom. So they do not understand why it is so important for us to be loyal to the Kingdom instead of to human governments.
16 To be loyal to Jehovah, we must obey him no matter what other people might do or say to us. (Daniel 3:16-18) Young people especially may find it difficult to be different from others. Parents, help your children to be courageous at school. Your children might be afraid to refuse to salute the flag or to refuse to participate in other nationalistic celebrations. During family worship, you can study how Jehovah feels about these things. Teach them how to explain what they believe clearly and respectfully. (Romans 1:16) Also, if necessary, help your children by speaking to their teachers and explaining to them what we believe.
ENJOY ALL OF JEHOVAH’S CREATION
17. What thinking should we avoid, and why?
17 We usually enjoy the food, language, scenery, and customs of the place we grew up in. But do we feel that what we like is always better than what other people like? Jehovah wants us to enjoy the variety of things he has created. (Psalm 104:24; Revelation 4:11) So why insist that one way of doing things is better than another?
Jehovah wants all kinds of people to live forever
18. Why is it good for us to think of others the way Jehovah does?
18 Jehovah wants all kinds of people to learn about him, to worship him, and to live forever. (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:3, 4) So when our brothers have ideas that are different from ours, we are willing to listen to them, as long as their ideas are acceptable to Jehovah. If we do, our life is interesting and enjoyable and we remain united with our brothers and sisters. As we have discussed, because we are loyal to Jehovah and his Kingdom, we do not take sides in the world’s conflicts. We hate the pride and competition in Satan’s world. How thankful we are that Jehovah has taught us to love peace and be humble! We feel like the psalmist who said: “Look! How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”