[A Review of the December 15, 2014 Watchtower article on page 22]
“We are members belonging to one another.”— Eph. 4:25
This article is yet another call for unity. This has become the dominant theme of the Organization of late. The January broadcast on tv.jw.org was also all about unity. However, on this occasion the target audience appears to be the JW youth.
“In many countries, a large number of those getting baptized are young people.” – Par. 1
Regrettably, no references are given so that the reader can verify this statement. However, using the statistics provided by recent Yearbooks, it is evident that growth in First World countries is at a standstill or worse. Older ones are dying off, others are leaving, and the youth are not filling the vacancies as they did in decades past. This is worrisome for an Organization that uses numerical growth as proof of God’s blessing.
Of itself, unity is neither good nor bad. The purpose to which it is put gives it a moral dimension. In the history of God’s people, from the time of Moses forward, we will come to see that unity has more often than not turned out for bad.
But first, let’s deal with the WT study article’s theme text. Ephesians 4:25 is used to give us a Bible basis for calling for unity as a means to survive the end of the world. The publishers go so far as to make this the third of the article’s review points: “How can you personally show that you want to be among the ‘members belonging to one another’?” (See “How Would You Reply” sidebar, p. 22)
Being well trained, the rank and file are unlikely to review the context of Ephesians. They are unlikely to learn that Paul is not discussing membership in an organization. He is speaking allegorically of body members, likening Christians to the various members of a human body, then drawing the comparison to the spiritual body of anointed Christians under Christ as the head. He also refers to them as a temple in Christ. All references Paul makes, even according to JW theology, refer only to the anointed followers of Christ. See this for yourself by clicking on these texts: Eph 2:19-22; 3:6; 4:15, 16; 5:29, 20.
Given this fact, the WT review question makes no sense since the publishers deny 99.9% of all Jehovah’s Witnesses membership in the very body they are asking us to join with.
All the members of a human body can still be united, even if the head is removed, but of what value would that be? The body would be dead. Only with the head attached can a body live. A hand or foot or eye can be removed, but the other body members survive if they stay in union with the head. Every reference to the unity of the Christian congregation found in the Greek Scriptures speaks not of inter-member unity, but of unity with Christ. Use the Watchtower Library program to prove this to yourself. Type “union” in the search field and scan the dozens of references from Matthew through to Revelation. You’ll see that even our union or unity with God is attained by first being in union with Christ. In fact, there can be no true benefit to Christian unity if Christ—the head of the Congregation—is not the key part of that union. Given this, one has to wonder why the publishers have made no mention of Jesus’ key role in Christian unity in this article. He is barely mentioned and never in connection with Christian unity.
Based on the title and opening graphic, it is evident that the article’s message is that we must stay within the organization if we want to live through the world’s end.
Using fear as a motivating factor, the publishers hope to secure the continued membership of JW youth. To this end, they use Bible examples of God’s servants who were allegedly saved by being in unity. However, even a superficial knowledge of these historical events reveals this application to be specious.
The article starts with Lot. Was it unity that saved Lot and family or obedience? They were united yes, but in not wanting to leave, and had to be dragged by the angels to the city gates. Lot’s wife left with Lot, but her so-called unity didn’t save her when she disobeyed God. (Ge 19:15-16, 26) Additionally, Jehovah would have spared the entire city for the sake of 10 righteous men found within its walls. It would not have been the unity of these men—had they been found to exist—that would have saved the city, but their faith. (Ge 18:32)
Next, we consider the Israelites at the Red Sea. Was it sticking together in unity that saved them or was it following (being in unity with) Moses, that saved them? If it was national unity that saved them then what about three months later when national unity caused them to build the Golden Calf. Another example used only a few months back in The Watchtower was the unity of the nation under Moses that saved them from suffering the fate of Korah and his rebels. Yet the very next day, that same unity caused them to rebel against Moses and 14,700 were killed. (Nu 16:26, 27, 41-50)
Throughout the history of Israel, which the publication often refer to as God’s earthly organization, those who remained united were those who rebelled. It was the individuals who went against the crowd that were most often favored by God. The few times the united throng were blessed, it was because they were united behind a faithful leader, as was the case in our third WT Study example, King Jehoshaphat.
Today, the Greater Moses is Jesus. Only by staying in union with him can we survive the end of the world. If his teachings lead us away from an organization of men, should we abandon him to remain united with the majority?
Rather than use fear as a motivating factor for unity, Jesus uses love, the perfect bond of union.
“I have made your name known to them and will make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in union with them.”” (Joh 17:26)
Jesus’ Jewish disciples already knew God’s name was Jehovah (יהוה) but they didn’t know him “by name”, a phrase that to the Hebrew mind meant knowing the character of a person. Jesus revealed the Father to them as a person, and as a consequence, they grew to love God. Perhaps they had only feared Him before, but by means of Jesus’ teaching, they came to love Him and union with God through Jesus was the blessed result.
“For in union with Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any value, but faith operating through love is.” (Ga 5:6)
A form of worship—a religious belief system—is nothing without love. Even raw faith is nothing unless it operates through love. Love alone endures and gives value to all the other things. (1Co 13:1-3)
“Keep holding to the standard of wholesome words that you heard from me with the faith and love that result from union with Christ Jesus.” (2Ti 1:13)
“God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in union with God and God remains in union with him.” (1Jo 4:16)
Union with God and Christ can only be achieved by means of love. Neither will accept unity with a human or group of humans on any other basis.
Finally, the Bible instructs us: “…clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Col 3:14)
Why do the publishers ignore these powerful and motivating Bible truths, and instead choose fear to motivate.
“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—those who have strayed off on their own—will be saved?—Mic. 2:12.” (Par. 12)
The message is that while being in the Organization isn’t a guarantee of survival, being outside of it is a virtual guarantee of death.
A Sanity Check
If the Israelites at the Red Sea had unitedly abandoned Moses and returned to Egypt, would their unity have saved them? Only unity with Moses resulted in salvation. Is the situation any different today?
Substitute every reference made to Jehovah’s Witnesses in the article with the name of another prominent Christian denomination—Baptist, Mormon, Adventist, what have you. You will find the article’s logic, such as it is, works just as well. Those religions believe they will be attacked before the world’s end by a newly formed world government under the Antichrist. They tell their respective flocks to stay united, to attend meetings, to engage in good works. to proclaim the Christ and share the good news. They have missionaries and they also practice charitable works, often surpassing those of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are active in disaster relief efforts as well. In short, everything in the article works for them just as well as it does for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
If asked, your average Witness will dismiss this line of reasoning by saying that the other religions teach falsehoods, not the truth; so their unity will result in death for their flocks. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses only teach the truth; so unity with them is unity with Jehovah.
Very well. If we are to test the inspired expression, how much more so the uninspired one? (1Jo 4:1 NWT) Therefore, please consider the following:
“Everyone, then, that confesses union with me before men, I will also confess union with him before my Father who is in the heavens;” (Mt 10:32 NWT)
“He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him.” (Joh 6:56 NWT)
Clearly, for Christ to confess union with us before the Father, Jehovah God, we must be feeding on his flesh and drinking his blood. Of course, this is symbolic of what his flesh and blood represent, but to demonstrate our acceptance of that symbology we must partake of the bread and the wine. If we refuse the symbols, we reject the reality they represent. Rejecting those emblems means rejecting union with the Christ. It is that simple.
The Real Path to Unity
What we should be teaching our brothers and sisters in the Kingdom hall is the real path to unity. John puts it so succinctly:
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God, and everyone who loves the one who caused to be born loves him who has been born from that one. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and carry out his commandments.” (1Jo 5:1-2 NWT)
Love is the perfect bond of union. Why use anything else when you have perfection to work with? John says that if we believe Jesus is God’s anointed one, we are “born from God”. That means we are God’s children. Friends are not born of God. Only children are born of the Father. So believing that Jesus is the Christ makes us God’s children. If we love God, “the one who caused to be born”, we will naturally love all others who have “been born from that one.” Unity with the Christian brotherhood is the inevitable result; and loving God means obeying his commandments.
Telling God’s children that they are not his children is an act of lawlessness. Telling your brother that he is not your brother, that your Father is not his Father, that he is in fact, an orphan and can only aspire to be a friend of your Father, is one of the most unloving acts imaginable; especially so when the Father in question is the Lord God Jehovah. In doing so, the Governing Body deny us the very best means at our disposal for achieving unity.
You can be sure that the leaders of God’s people were calling for unity when they got their brothers and sisters to contribute their gold for the building of the Golden Calf. You can be sure that any who held out were pressured to conform for the sake of unity. Even Aaron caved under the pressure to conform. Their unity, their solidarity, stood in opposition to God, for they broke unity with God’s representative, Moses.
While the constant calls for unity and solidarity made by the Governing Body through our publications dresses them in a cloak of righteousness, they are in fact breaking our most important union or unity—that which saves us—the union with the Greater Moses, Jesus Christ. Their teaching breaks the Father-Son bond Jesus came to the earth to make possible so that we could all be called Children of God.
“However, to all who did receive him, he gave authority to become God’s children, because they were exercising faith in his name.” (Joh 1:12 NWT)