Chapter 11, part 2

Loyalty to the Kingdom

Nationalism and Racism

National boundaries are made by men, not ordained by God. They are born from distrust and fear, and hardened by pride. Some believe that God divides us, pointing to scripture, such as at Acts 17:26: "He made out of one man (one blood, KJ) every nation of men," decreeing the "times and boundaries of where they would dwell." A closer look shows that the focus is exactly the reverse: every nation is made from just one man, one blood. All are to seek Him; He "is not far off from each one of us," "we are his children," "he is telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent." Our Father would unite us, rather than divide us. In Christ, "there is neither Jew nor Greek"; we are all one in union with him. (Gal 3:28, see also Eph 2:11-14.) Therefore, you will not find Christians taking pride in or fighting over boundaries drawn by politicians.

Racists go even further than nationalists, saying that God divided the races and forbids interracial marriage. True, God forbade the Israelites from freely marrying foreigners, but the reason was religious, not racial. (Deut 7:3, 4) If a foreigner proved himself or herself devoted to Jehovah, he or she could marry into the nation. For just three examples out of many, consider that Jesus himself had as ancestors Ruth the Moabitess (not Israelite) and Rahab of Jericho (a Canaanite, not even Semitic). Bathsheba, mother of Solomon, was originally the wife of Uriah "the Hittite," a valiant man in David’s army. (Matt 1:5, 6, 16; Ruth 1:4; Josh 6:25; 2 Sam 11:3; see also Jehovah’s firm defense of interracial marriage in the case of Moses in Numbers 12.)

In later years the Jews perverted God’s law into a feeling of superiority over all non-Jews. Peter was exposed to this atmosphere from infancy, so although he was a Christian and an apostle, he had to learn to overcome his prejudice. An Italian military officer named Cornelius had a reputation as a good person, "righteous and God-fearing and well reported on by the whole nation of the Jews." Despite that, pious Jews would not enter his house or have a meal with him. So Jesus had to prepare Peter to go visit him: in a vision he sternly told Peter to "stop calling defiled the things God has cleansed." When he got there Peter was rather frank: "You well know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or approach a man of another race; and yet God has shown me that I should call no man defiled or unclean." Seeing their eagerness to listen, Peter had to admit, "Now I understand that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him." Then, as he was telling them about Christ, "holy spirit came upon all those hearing the word." The Jews with Peter were amazed to see this special gift given to "people of the nations." (see Acts 10, particularly vss 22, 28, 34, 35, 44, 45.)

So they all became Christians and lived happily ever after as one big loving family, right? Well, no; is life ever that simple?

When Peter got back to Jerusalem he had to explain and defend what he had done; some Jewish Christians took exception to it (see Acts 11:1-3). Peter reasoned with them: "If God gave the same free gift to them that he gave to us who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I should hinder God?" With that they acknowledged that this really was from God. (vss 17, 18.)

Unfortunately, despite this impressive experience, prejudice persisted. Years later, even Peter was influenced when some Jewish Christians separated themselves from non-Jewish Christians. (see the account at Gal 2:11-14.)

If we are to be loyal to the Kingdom, we must take to heart what God is trying to tell us here. If we have feelings of superiority based on race or ethnicity, we could easily begin to "hinder God." If we say, "sure you can be a fine Christian, and I love you—over there, in your place," we are not thinking like God.

Peter said, "God has shown me that I should call no man defiled or unclean." Does this mean we have no standards, anything goes, "celebrate diversity," as they say in the world, usually as they urge us to tolerate things God declares unclean? No. If a person doesn’t take a bath, calling him unclean is not bigotry, it’s an astute observation. The same applies in a spiritual way. Peter did not say, "Oh, I see! God loves everyone just the way they are!" No, Peter said, "I see that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him." So God still has standards. What God looks at is not the color or style of the clothing, but whether it is modest; not the tempo of the music, but its temperament; not the flavor of the food, but whether one feeds on his Word; not the lightness or darkness of the skin, but the light or darkness in the heart. —1 Timothy 2:9, 10; Exodus 32:17-19; Matthew 4:4, John 6:51; 2 Peter 1:19, 1 Corinthians 12.13, Malachi 2:10.

Are Christians Neutral?

Some say that a Christian’s proper position relative to the contentious issues of this world, be they political, environmental, or social, is "neutrality." According to the dictionary, neutrality means "noninvolvement in conflicting alliances" and a neutral person is "not aligned with or supporting either side in a dispute or controversy." Why would a person not get involved? In the midst of a conflict being portrayed as a war between good and evil (by both sides of course), if we simply say we are neutral, we will definitely give people the wrong impression. If all we say is "I don’t get involved," most people would see that as cowardly, selfish, and coldly indifferent. Do we not care if righteousness triumphs victorious??

Yes, of course we care! Christians are not blind. We can see the merit (if any) on both sides of most disputes, but we also have some education as to how God sees things. So we can also see how both sides diverge from God's thinking. So which side do we take? How do we tell zealous partisans that neither side is entirely righteous, that both sides are flawed? Must we select the lesser of two evils? Is there any third choice? Something Jesus said offers a clue: "Let them be. Blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." He said this about religious leaders who insisted they were right but made rules that ignored godly principles. The same advice should apply to political leaders whose ideas ignore essential godly principles: leave them alone, do not follow them, either to the left or the right. —Matthew 15:14.

Of course, if a government puts a new plan into effect, we do not ignore or defy it, unless it would have us do evil; we work with it, we try to follow the new regulations. We are neutral about it in the sense that we neither proclaim it the way of salvation (because it is not) nor do we agitate for resistance to it. We can comment on its imperfections and limitations, and compare it to a more spiritual solution to whatever problem it is meant to solve, without trying to make it fail.

There is a slogan, "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!" To which we say, "Amen!" The next question is, What is the solution? True Christians have found it: it is that incorruptible Kingdom of God, a true government with the power to bring all evil to an abrupt and final end, and to repair all the damage done to creation by mankind. We are doing our utmost to be very much part of this solution. If we are not for God’s Kingdom, we are part of the problem!

The world ridicules such faith; to them God’s Kingdom is pie-in-the-sky, out-of-touch dreaming. "Sure, someday, eventually, but right now we have to deal with this ourselves any way we can," they reason. But the Kingdom is very real to the true Christian. We believe with our whole heart that it is coming (soon) and it will render all present political controversy moot. As a result, our interest in politics is limited. We see this world as like the Titanic after it hit the iceberg. Only those who do not understand what is going down are still interested in straightening the chairs on the deck, or the menu in the dining-hall. Of course, there are better things to do than running around in panic, or jumping overboard into icy waters. Finding a lifeboat comes to mind. . . also helping fellow passengers to safety. "The world is passing away," says inspired scripture, "but the one who does the will of God remains forever." We are interested in that. —1 John 2:17.

Democracy and the Kingdom

"My kingdom is no part of this world," Jesus said to Pilate. What did he mean? He clarified: "My kingdom is not from this source." So his Kingdom will not be established by this world. It will not come by politics, or by international conferences, or by treaties, nor will it come by popular vote. The solution, therefore, does not lie in democracy. —John 18:36.

Simply put, in democracy the majority prevails. So the majority must be wise for it to succeed long term. Is that a realistic faith? Many voters are conscientious, but that does not mean they are wise.* Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." The most basic lesson of the Bible, established at the very beginning in the garden of Eden, is that mankind is not wise enough to decide his own way without God’s help. No, the Bible teaches that true wisdom is with those who respect godly standards. (Prov 3:5-7, Prov 9:10) But which way is the world going? What system of beliefs control their vote?

Although many practical matters allow for latitude of viewpoint (tax rates, zoning rules, business regulations, etc) there remains a set of moral absolutes which must inform any decision, however small. But increasingly people today are rejecting scriptural morals, taking instead the view that what is good depends on when, where, and who you are. For many years this moral relativism has been the official credo of the intellectual elite, those at institutions of higher learning, "producing the leaders of tomorrow." Only tomorrow has become today. In 2008 the world found that markets without morals are like a car without steering. As they struggled to avoid the cliff, did they admit the root cause? Did they rediscover godly morality?*

Modern leaders are working to create a new world order, where they are free to pursue selfish desires, no matter how degraded. To do this they wrap themselves in the flag of freedom and civil rights. They relentlessly and insidiously promote a secular, humanist worldview, denouncing traditional morality as intolerant narrow-mindedness. Millions have succumbed to the constant drumbeat of indoctrination. At this late hour, although there remain minorities who fight against abortion, gambling, pornography, prostitution, homosexuality and so on, the majority tolerate or even endorse such evils. Some hypocritically decry wickedness while electing to be entertained by it at the theater and online. No, if Bible standards of right and wrong were on the ballot today, it is sad to have to say, the majority would not elect them. Persons with godly wisdom have never been a majority in this world, and never will be. So how could a Christian, with his "extreme and bigoted" views about family life and morality, hope to get elected, or to elect anyone who truly represented him? Instead, the day is upon us that any who offend the sensitivities of perverts by daring to quote scripture will be fined and jailed. —Jeremiah 8:9.

Nor is the problem only with the voters. A candidate who tries to keep his campaign clean and honest usually gets crushed. Determined to win, politicians exhibit the spirit of Satan: they search for any weakness in their opponent and attack it relentlessly. They study what moves people and know that when emotions conflict with facts, the facts almost always lose. So they carefully choose phrases that incite anxiety, fear, and animosity toward their opponent and his ideas, while glorifying their own half-baked proposals as the salvation of civilization. Those who would dare to point out that their promises are made of catch-phrases and platitudes are painted as out to destroy the country. The voters gather to the side that plays to their prejudices and harden into enemy camps. After the election, this does not a smooth-functioning government make. Jesus said: "Every kingdom divided against itself comes to desolation." That is truly a good description of democracy in today's world.

Seeing them spend millions to convince voters how worthless their opponent is, what are we to think? Maybe, just this once, they are telling the truth? So why should we ever vote for such scoundrels and incompetents? And really, if an honest man were to survive the withering crossfire and get into office, his troubles would have only just begun. The system will not allow him to keep his promises or work out his plans. The Golden Rule of politics really is "He who has the gold makes the rules." He will face powerful entrenched agendas: for example, any politician who dares oppose homosexuality can kiss his office good-bye. He will be so thoroughly and viciously savaged in the public media that even his own mother would hesitate to vote for him. Modern politics is indeed very dirty business.

Seeing all this and not blinded by patriotic propaganda, Christians cannot put faith in democracy, or any other form of rule by men apart from God, as a fundamental solution to mankind’s problems. Can a nation who cannot agree who its God is, or even if they are "under God" or not, really be a true beacon of hope? —Matt 12:25; give thought also to James 3:13-16, Psalms 94:20, 146:3, 4 and Isaiah 10:1, 2.

Jesus said his followers were "no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world." (John 17:16) If God tells us we are "no part of the world", will he support and bless our inserting ourselves into its corrupt and irreformable political system? Not at all. What would we achieve if we got involved without God’s support? Not much! We would have exactly the same wonderful system we currently suffer from. Consider: are there not already millions deeply involved who sincerely think of themselves as Christians, and to the extent the system makes possible, do try to apply some godly principles in the political choices they make? Look at the results, they are all around you. Wise people learn from failure. So true Christians do not use political means, such as voting or lobbying or activism, to try to guide governments in the right direction. The wisdom of God does not make us pessimistic; it makes us realistic. We "don’t have the votes." Sure, we’re disillusioned, and happy for it; we don’t want to believe in illusions.

Jehovah teaches us to acknowledge our limitations. The popular exhortation "you can do anything you set your mind to, you can be anything you want to be" is in fact an echo of the snake’s deceptive words to Eve. (Genesis 3:4, 5) Experience has proven Jeremiah’s observation: "I well know, O Jehovah, that man's way does not belong to him. It does not belong to man even to direct his step. Correct me, O Jehovah." (Jer 10:23, 24) We need his guidance and his Kingdom.

Are we saying we should stand aside and let the worst people run everything? If we do nothing, won't that be the outcome? If we do not vote for change, are we not saying, ‘I accept things as they are’? No. There are three choices in voting: the incumbents, the opposition, or choices not on the ballot. Any could in theory be equally valid. Are we to be faulted for taking the last option, which can only be selected by not voting?

"Even the minority have a voice when they vote," some cheerfully (and rather naïvely) say. In truth we find our voice much louder when we speak to the people directly. Most of the people don’t listen, and likewise neither does the government. But we see voting as an exceptionally ineffective way to have our voice heard.

Our Commander Jesus tells us what to do: "Go, teach all the things I have commanded." So Christians are to be persuasive communicators to the world, seeking to move individuals to adopt the standards of Christianity. Insofar as we succeed, we improve the community, the nation, and the world. Voting, which is after all just a polling to determine the will of the majority, is not part of this work. But Christians do not believe that they will be so persuasive that they turn the world from its descent into destruction. Jesus said (at Matthew 7:13, 14) that the majority (including voters) choose the "broad and spacious road" (that is, the easy and popular one) leading to destruction. Only a small minority seek out and follow the cramped and difficult road leading to life. This is the most important vote, the one with our feet. Which way are you "voting" today?

Social Activism

If you are a Christian and keep up with current events, you may understandably be very discouraged about the direction society is heading in this 21st century. Long-treasured traditional values, the foundations of civilization, are now being branded as bigoted, intolerant, dangerous, and hateful, while perversions and self-centered disregard for human life are being dressed up with glowing words of praise in the media. The murder of nearly born infants by sucking their brains out the base of their skull is lightly called "choice." Disgustingly filthy and degrading sexual behavior almost guaranteed to cause transmission of dread diseases is called a "natural and loving orientation." Other self-destructive behavior, such as "recreational drug use," is nominally deplored, but laws and actions intended to curb such things are thwarted by clever lobbyists, lawyers and judges. Wealth disparity becomes more and more extreme as a powerful few use both legal and illegal means to amass wealth at the expense of millions working to exhaustion for very little reward. It is frustrating to watch these things mount up despite the protests and endless "discussions" in legislatures and courts. You may note that those working to establish a godless humanist order have no scruples: they do not hesitate to twist words and baldly lie to demonize all that a Christian considers sacred. You may sense a kind of pressure developing as the rhetoric becomes more and more heated. Is a social explosion coming? What should a Christian loyal to God's Kingdom do?

Loyalty to the Kingdom requires us to speak out the truth, to declare boldly what is righteous and moral. This will increasingly expose us to ridicule and persecution as the end draws near. We may be tempted to become more forceful. Many in Christendom sincerely believe they are held responsible to do their utmost to stem the tide; to not at least try would make them complicit in the wickedness. They urgently lobby politicians, they contribute heavily to candidates and parties that tell them what they want to hear, they march with placards, they write letters to editors. Their heart is in the right place, but they do not see the situation as clearly as they could. Christians will always be outsiders to this world; any position of power they may think they are gaining is an illusion. Politicians will use us if we let them, but they will drop us when the wind shifts. Pinning our hopes on corrupted worldly governments is foolish. The rot goes far deeper than we can see on the surface.

Some have taken matters to heart so intensely that they harass and threaten those who defend, promote or commit evil, for example, abortionists and those who go to their "clinics." Standing idly by as innocent children are destroyed is so distressing that taking violent action to stop it could be seen as the only moral way to respond. In feeling this they have millennia of precedent in justifications given for military action and revolution. Even scripture concurs: "Rescue those who are being taken away to death; and those staggering to the slaughter, O may you hold them back. If you should say [later]: "But we did not know about this," will not He who examines hearts discern it, and He that is observing your soul know and surely pay back to each one according to what he does?" Clearly God holds us accountable to do what we can to defend helpless innocents. —Prov 24:11, 12.

Are there any limits to this? Yes: Remember, we are a spiritual army. That means we have a Commander, Christ. We have to fight as he directs. Our anger at the depravity of God's enemies may make us want to strike out at them, but we have to keep in check, remembering that "man's wrath does not work out God's righteousness." (James 1:20) Christ faced a world in his time that also was filled with reasons to be wrathful. Indeed he did express wrath at those who exploited the weak while piously proclaiming their righteousness. We can only imagine what power he might have had to do them harm, but he did not use it. That was not his mission at that time. Rather, he set the example for what we should do. He did not follow the Pharisees around and harass them, but he certainly was strong, bold and thorough in exposing their wickedness to the public. —see Matt 23:23-33. He knew there was a future time set for stronger action: see 2 Thess 1:6-10.

After Christ returned to heaven, the early Christians continued to face a world of moral darkness, filled with injustice and cruelty. Christ did not give them power to overthrow governments. He told them to preach to all nations the good news of the heavenly kingdom coming, to "open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance." (Acts 26:18) Paul said (as noted earlier) "the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly [such as swords, or guns and bombs], but they are powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. By them we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God; and we are bringing every thought [of those whom we ‘conquer’] into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ."

Paul waged the Christian warfare boldly, zealously, and skillfully, so he could later say: "I am clean from the blood of all men, for I have not held back from telling you all the counsel of God." (Acts 20.26) No, he had not saved the world, reformed the empire, chained the dragon. He had just done what he was given to do as a true soldier of Christ. Likewise today: our assignment is to warn the wicked and teach the teachable. That is the limit of our responsibility to the world. God claims the job of executing vengeance on those who reject him, so we too can be "clean from the blood of all men." So God does not hold us bloodguilty for not using violence to oppose the legalized murder of innocent preborn children. The bloodguilt lies with those authorities who permit and sanction such murder. We would, however, be held bloodguilty if we remained silent. —Ezek 33:8, 9.


In the first century Mediterranean world perhaps 20% of the population (in Rome, up to 30%) were slaves, legally owned by their fellowmen, bound to absolute obedience no matter how oppressive. Some sadistic masters could be unimaginably cruel. Many slaves were captives of war and treated worse than livestock. If there was ever a social cause that early Christianity could have taken up, surely it would have been slavery. Yet well over a thousand years passed before nominal Christians finally convinced enough people to begin abolition. (Slavery is still common in Muslim countries, one source estimating about 12 million in Africa and the Middle East. See this webpage.) What took so long?

In the first century Christianity had no influence in society. Just making the few converts that they did stirred up intense persecution. So directly trying to overthrow the social order of the day, without divine authorization, would have failed. What, then, did they do? They reformed those who did listen. How did this work?

When a slaveowner became a Christian, he might set his slaves free, but he did not have to, because at the time, that might not have been in their best interests. A slave with a Christian master could actually be better off than a freeman in that world; a freed slave was still not a citizen and would have few rights. He was better protected under the law as someone's property. So we find no scripture urging slaveowners to free their slaves; rather it says "You masters, treat your slaves in a righteous and fair way, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven." (Col 4:1; see also Eph 6:9.)

A slave might also become a Christian, either after his master did, or on his own. That it was possible for a slave to do this clues us in that not all slaves lived such a bedarkened life as we tend to imagine today. People were human back then just as we are today, so there were masters covering the full range from beastly tyrants to kindly father-figures. And slaves covered the range from lazy and rebellious to skilled tradesmen or stewards proud to be part of a successful household. Some masters would journey away for months, entrusting his family and house to his slaves, allowing them considerable initiative to manage things in his absence. (Compare Luke 7:2, 3, Matt 25:14-23; see also Eccl 5:12.) What counsel did Christianity give to slaves?

Paul gave his protégé Timothy this inspired advice to pass on: "Let those who are under the yoke of slavery keep on considering their owners worthy of full honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may never be spoken of injuriously. Moreover, let those having believing owners not be disrespectful to them because they are brothers. Rather, they should serve more readily, because those receiving the benefit of their good service are believers and beloved. Keep on teaching these things and giving these exhortations." (1 Tim 6:1, 2) To the Colossian congregation he wrote: "You slaves, be obedient in everything to those who are your human masters, not only when they are watching, just to please men, but with sincerity of heart, with fear of God. Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as for the Lord, and not for men, for you know that it is from Jehovah you will receive the inheritance as a reward. Slave for the Master, Christ." (Col 3:22-24)

What if their master was not a kindly Christian? Peter counsels "Let servants be in subjection to their masters with all due fear, not only to the good and reasonable but also to those hard to please. For it is agreeable [or honorable] when someone endures hardship and suffers unjustly because of conscience toward God. For what merit is there if you are beaten for sinning and you endure it? But if you endure suffering because of doing good, this is an agreeable [meritorious] thing to God."

Was that their only choice, to suck it up and take unlimited abuse? No, that was not Peter's point. God's own law to Israel provided that runaway slaves were not to be returned to their master perforce. Although the Law permitted slavery and obligatory labor, it forbade cruelty. Not that everyone obeyed the law, but at least God stated his view of it. —see De 23:15, 16; Ex 21:20, 26, 27, De 5:14. Compare Job 31:13-15. See also 1 Tim 5:18, 1 Cor 9:9, 10, where God says that a worker's compensation should include access to the product of his labor. Not just bulls, but human workers too.

If a slave became a Christian, he was not told ‘slavery is your lot in life, God's will for you, accept it.’ On the contrary, speaking past the slaveowner directly to the slave, Paul advises: "Were you called [to Christ] when a slave? Do not let it worry you; but if you can become free, then seize the opportunity. For anyone in the Lord that was called when a slave is the Lord’s freedman; likewise anyone who was called when a freeman is [now] a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; stop becoming slaves of men." (1 Cor 7:21-23) Paul was not saying to walk off the job, but even in those days many slaves could save up and buy their freedom or otherwise work out a deal. If that was a practical option, it could free them up to serve the true Master, Christ, more fully.

A lesson for us today: Christ bought all of us from our old master, sin, with "a price," his precious blood. We are His slaves now. No kinder Master could we have, but he still requires obedience. Understanding that, we would avoid taking employment under anyone who thinks his authority exceeds God's. And we are mindful of the proverb, “the borrower is a slave to the lender.” So we avoid needless debt. —Proverbs 22:7. See also Romans 6:16-23, Galatians 1:10, Matt 10:32-38.

You might think this discussion outdated, since President Lincoln abolished slavery in the United States in 1863. Actually, that did not change things as much as you may have been led to believe. That liberation was soon replaced in the slave states by Jim Crow laws that legalized subjugation by terrorism. (See this site.) The national government largely ignored that cruelty for almost 100 more years. Even after the civil rights laws of the 1960's, racist discrimination continues to keep many of darker skin in poverty. It is especially easy for employers to take advantage of people who come into the country without papers. But not even "whites" are exempt from being exploited. Many employees today are not really so different from some slaves of long ago. Laws that purport to limit abuse of authority are not always enforced. Like a slave, an employee is not really the master of his economic situation. He has to do what he is told, and can be punished for any perceived insubordination. He is dependent on his company owners to organize and manage the enterprise successfully, and they have to depend on him to do his job well without excessive supervision. That is much the same as it was in ancient times: slaves were dependent on their owners to be successful managers, and the owner was dependent on his slaves to get the work done. Although he could 'motivate' them by threats and punishment, and could be cruelly exploitative, many masters understood that treating a slave fairly got better work out of him or her. The same dynamic applies today.

Some slaves were an expensive investment, not someone you could afford to casually abuse and discard. And some slaves even prospered to the point that they could buy their freedom, which would be scarcely imaginable if their owner was forcing them to work dawn to dark without any compensation. Others were content enough in their service that they turned down opportunities to obtain freedom. The fact that a poor freeman didn't have much legal protection made the relative security of having an owner to watch out for him a fairly passable deal. That is comparable today to weighing the risks of owning your own business versus just being an employee, letting others deal with the lawyers and the government.

In short, this helps us to understand why early Christianity did not try to abolish slavery. Just as then, there is much we could complain about in the way things are done in this world, but the real solution involves sweeping the entire system aside, and only God has the power to do that. We have his assurance that that day is coming, and we are thrilled to be able to proclaim that it should arrive in our own lifetime.

Environmental Activism

Christians are also deeply interested in the first command Jehovah gave to mankind: "Be fruitful and become many, fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection . . . every living creature that is moving upon the earth." The first humans were placed in a prepared paradise garden, which was clearly to be their model for transforming the rest of the planet. So "subduing" the earth did not mean laying it waste, it meant managing it to produce a desirable environment. Needless to say, the present world is going the opposite direction. So many men are utterly selfish and shortsighted, considering only what yields immediate dollar profit. And of course we can do much damage without even realizing it at first, due to our limited understanding of how the natural world works. Some feel that we should all revert to a primitive hunter-gatherer lifestyle, but on closer study that is not necessarily ecologically benign either. Quite a few species were hunted to extinction long before the present industrial age began spewing out its marvelous mix of poisons. What would God have us do today?

Again, God’s Kingdom is the answer: it will "bring to ruin those ruining the earth." Until then Christians have to live in the world as it is. God looks at us to see how much we care, so if we are among those who are ruining the earth, either physically or spiritually, we will soon feel his hot displeasure. But, He has not given us an ecological gospel to preach. Our focus is not on learning how to be perfect environmentalists. He does not expect us to wear natural-fiber robes and sandals and walk everywhere. We are not graded on how much money we give to environmental causes. It is sufficient to be interested, to be aware, and to take reasonable measures within present reach.* Becoming a fanatic and a zealot will not make any dent compared to what Jehovah himself will soon do, so rather than taking on His job, we stick to the assignment He has given us: preach the Kingdom as the answer. —Rev 11:18.

Continue with Part 3: Making God’s Heart Rejoice—the Christian View of Holidays

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Acts 17:26-30
He made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed times and the set limits of where men would dwell, so that they would seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us. For by him we have life and move and exist, even as some of your own poets have said, “For we are also his children.” Therefore, since we are the children of God, we should not think that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone, like something sculptured by the art and design of humans. True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance; but now he is declaring to all people everywhere that they should repent.

Gal 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:11-14
Therefore, remember that at one time you, people of the nations by fleshly descent, were the ones called “uncircumcision” by those called “circumcision,” which is made in the flesh by human hands. At that time you were without Christ, alienated from the state of Israel, strangers to the covenants of the promise; you had no hope and were without God in the world. But now in union with Christ Jesus, you who were once far off have come to be near by the blood of the Christ. For he is our peace, the one who made the two groups one and destroyed the wall in between that fenced them off.

Deut 7:3, 4
You must not form any marriage alliances with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods; then Jehovah's anger will blaze against you, and he will swiftly annihilate you.

Matt 1:5, 6, 16
Salmon became father to Boaz by Rahab; Boaz became father to Obed by Ruth; Obed became father to Jesse; Jesse became father to David the king. David became father to Solomon by the wife of Uriah. . . 16 Jacob became father to Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

Ruth 1:4
The men later married Moabite women; one was named Orpah, and the other was named Ruth. They remained there for about ten years.

Joshua 6:25
Only Rahab the prostitute and her father's household and all who belonged to her were spared by Joshua; and she lives in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent out to spy on Jericho.

2 Samuel 11:3 Then David sent someone to inquire about the woman and he reported: "Is this not Bath-sheba the daughter of Eliam the wife of Uriah the Hittite?"

Acts 10:22
They said: “Cornelius, an army officer, a righteous and God-fearing man who is well-reported-on by the whole nation of the Jews, was given divine instructions by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.”
28 He said to them: “You well know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or approach a man of another race; and yet God has shown me I should call no man defiled or unclean.”
34-35 At this Peter began to speak, and he said: “Now I truly understand that God is not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
44-45 While Peter was still speaking about these matters, the holy spirit came upon all those hearing the word. And the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the free gift of the holy spirit was being poured out also on people of the nations!

Acts 11:1-3
Now the apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that people of the nations had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who favored circumcision began to contend with him, saying he had gone into the house of men that were not circumcised and had eaten with them.
17, 18 [Peter answers:] “If, therefore, God gave the same free gift to them as he also did to us who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I should hinder God?” When they heard these things, they stopped arguing, and glorified God, saying: “Well, then, God has also granted to people of the nations repentance leading to life.”

Gal 2:11-14
However, when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I resisted him face-to-face, because he was clearly in the wrong. For before certain men from James arrived, he used to eat with people of the nations; but when they arrived, he stopped doing this and separated himself, fearing those of the circumcised class. The rest of the Jews also joined him in putting on this pretense, so that even Barnabas was led along with them in their pretense. But when I saw that they were not walking in step with the truth of the good news, I said to Cephas before them all: “If you, though you are a Jew, live as the nations do and not as Jews do, how can you compel people of the nations to live according to Jewish practice?”

1 Timothy 2:9, 10
Likewise, the women should adorn themselves in appropriate dress, with modesty and soundness of mind, not with styles of hair braiding and gold or pearls or very expensive clothing, but in the way that is proper for women professing to reverence God, namely, through good works.

Exodus 32:17-19
When Joshua began to hear the noise of the people because of their shouting, he said to Moses: “There is the sound of battle in the camp.” But Moses said: “It is not the sound of singing over a victory, and it is not the sound of wailing over a defeat; I hear the sound of another kind of singing.” As soon as Moses got near the camp and saw the calf [idol] and the dances, his anger began to blaze, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain.

Matthew 4:4
But in reply [Jesus] said: "It is written, 'Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every word that comes from Jehovah's mouth.'"

John 6:51
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.

2 Peter 1:19
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, and you are doing well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and a daystar rises, in your hearts.

1 Corinthians 12:13
For by one spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink one spirit.

Malachi 2:10
Do we not all have one father? Was it not one God who created us? So why do we deal treacherously with one another, profaning the covenant of our forefathers?

Prov 3:5-7
Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not rely upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad.

Prov 9:10
The fear of Jehovah is the foundation of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Most Holy One is true understanding.

Jeremiah 5:27-29
Their houses are full of deception. That is why they have become powerful and rich. They have grown fat and smooth; they overflow with evil. They do not plead the legal case of the fatherless, that they may gain success. They deny justice to the poor. "Should I not call them to account for these things?" declares Jehovah. "Should I not avenge myself on such a nation?"

Jeremiah 22:13
Woe to the one who builds his house without righteousness and his upper rooms without justice, who makes his fellow man serve him for nothing, whose wages he refuses to pay.

Jeremiah 8:9
The wise have been put to shame. They have become terrified and will be caught. Look! They have rejected the word of Jehovah, and what wisdom do they have?

Matt 12:25
Knowing their thoughts, he said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself comes to ruin, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand."

James 3:13-16
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him demonstrate his fine conduct by works with the mildness that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and contentiousness in your hearts, do not be bragging and lying against the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above; it is earthly, animalistic, demonic. For wherever there are jealousy and contentiousness, there will also be disorder and every vile thing.

Psalms 94:20
Can a throne of corruption be allied with you
While it is framing trouble in the name of the law?

Ps 146:3, 4
Do not put your trust in nobles,
Nor in the son of man, who cannot bring salvation.
His spirit goes out, he returns to the ground;
On that very day his thoughts [or plans] perish.

Isaiah 10:1, 2
Woe to those who enact harmful regulations and those who constantly draft oppressive decrees, to deny the legal claim of the poor, to deprive the lowly among my people of justice, making widows their spoil, and fatherless children their plunder!

Luke 23:50-52
And, look! a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man—he had not voted in support of their scheme and action—he was from Arimathea, a city of the Judeans, and was waiting for the kingdom of God; this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

Genesis 3:4, 5
At this the serpent said to the woman: "You certainly will not die! For God knows that at the moment you eat from it your eyes are sure to be opened and you are sure to be like God, knowing good and bad."
(As discussed in chapter 2 of this book, she did NOT become wise when she ate, and we've been proving it ever since.)

Matthew 7:13, 14
Go in through the narrow gate, because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate, and cramped the road, leading off into life; and few are the ones finding it.

Matt 23:23-33
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but you have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was necessary to do, yet not to disregard the other things. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of greediness and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may also become clean.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men's bones and of every sort of uncleanness. In the same way, on the outside you appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you build the graves of the prophets and decorate the tombs of the righteous ones, and you say, “If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have shared with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.” Therefore, you are testifying against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Well, then, fill up the measure of your forefathers. Serpents, offspring of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of Gehenna?

[Gehenna: literally, 'valley of Hinnom', Jerusalem's garbage dump. See chapter 10.]

2 Thess 1:6-10
This takes into account that it is righteous on God's part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for you. But you who suffer tribulation will get relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels, in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. These will undergo the punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength, when he is glorified in his holy ones, and seen as wonderful in that day by all those who have exercised faith, because the witness we gave met with faith among you.

Ezek 33:8, 9
When I say to [you about*] someone wicked, “Wicked one, you will surely die!” but you do not speak out to warn the wicked one to change his course, he will die as a wicked man because of his own error, but I will ask his blood back from you. But if you warn someone wicked to turn back from his way and he refuses to change his course, he will die for his error, but you will certainly save your own life.

*If God had spoken the warning directly to the wicked one, Ezekiel would not need to deliver the message again. He could hardly do a better job of it than God himself. So it seems God's comment was not in the bad person's earshot; He then tasked Ezekiel to deliver it. Similarly today, His judgments are in scripture, unread by the wicked; we are given the job of attempting to alert them to their peril.

Eph 6:9
Also, you masters, keep treating them in the same way, not threatening, for you know that both their Master and yours is in the heavens, and there is no partiality with him.

Luke 7:2, 3
Now an army officer’s slave, who was dear to him, was seriously ill and about to pass away. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some elders of the Jews to him to ask him to come and make his slave well.

Matthew 25:14-23
For it is just like a man about to travel abroad who summoned his slaves and entrusted his belongings to them. He gave five talents to one, two to another, and one to still another, to each according to his own ability, and he went abroad. Immediately the one who received the five talents went and did business with them and gained five more. Likewise, the one who received the two gained two more. But the slave who received just one went off and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. So the one who had received the five talents came forward and brought five additional talents, saying, “Master, you entrusted five talents to me; see, I gained five talents more.” His master said to him: “Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things. I will appoint you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.” Next the one who had received the two talents came forward and said, “Master, you entrusted two talents to me; see, I gained two talents more.” “His master said to him: Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things. I will appoint you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.”

Ecclesiastes 5:12
Sweet is the sleep of the one serving, whether he eats little or much; but the plenty belonging to the rich one does not permit him to sleep.

De 23:15, 16
You should not hand over a slave to his master when he escapes from his master and comes to you. He may dwell among you in whatever place he chooses in one of your cities, wherever he likes. You must not mistreat him.

Exodus 21:20
In case a man strikes his slave man or his slave girl with a stick and that one dies under his hand, that one must be avenged without fail.

Exodus 21:26-27
If a man strikes the eye of his slave man or the eye of his slave girl and he destroys it, he is to let the slave go free in compensation for his eye. And if he knocks out the tooth of his slave man or of his slave girl, he is to let the slave go free in compensation for his tooth.

Deuteronomy 5:14
But the seventh day is a sabbath to Jehovah your God. You must not do any work, you nor your son nor your daughter nor your slave man nor your slave girl nor your bull nor your donkey nor any of your domestic animals nor your foreign resident who is inside your cities, in order that your slave man and your slave girl may rest the same as you.

Job 31:13-15
If I denied justice to my male or female servants
When they had a complaint against me,
What can I do when God confronts me?
What can I answer him when he calls for an accounting?
Did not the One who made me in the womb also make them?
Was it not the same One who formed us before our birth?

1 Timothy 5:18
For the scripture says: "You must not muzzle a bull when it threshes out the grain"; also: "The workman is worthy of his wages."

1 Corinthians 9:9, 10
For it is written in the law of Moses: "You must not muzzle a bull when it is threshing out the grain." Is it bulls God is concerned about? Or is it actually for our sakes that he says it? Really it was written for our sakes, because the man who plows and the man who threshes ought to do so in hope of receiving a share.

Romans 6:16-23
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? But thanks to God that although you were once the slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that pattern of teaching to which you were handed over [to serve]. Yes, since you were set free from sin, you became slaves to righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh; for just as you [before] presented your members as slaves to uncleanness and lawlessness, leading to lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, leading to holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free as to righteousness. What, then, was the fruit that you used to produce at that time? Things of which you are now ashamed. For the end of those things is death. However, now that you were set free from sin and became slaves to God, you are producing your fruit in the way of holiness, and the end is everlasting life. For the only wage sin can pay is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.

Galatians 1:10

Am I seeking to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I would not be Christ's slave.

Matt 10:32-38
Everyone, then, who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father who is in the heavens; but whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens. Do not think I came to bring peace to the earth; I came to bring, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household. Whoever has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and whoever has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not accept his execution timber and follow after me is not worthy of me.

This is the absolute loyalty that Christ as Master expects and requires. Only those ready to be his slave will be given life. Of course, slavery to Christ is not miserable: he assures us at Matt 11:28-30: "Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild and humble in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light."

Why are Christians not nationalistic?

Why are Christians not racist?

To what degree should we be tolerant?

Are Christians neutral? Explain.

What is the only realistic solution to the myriad troubles on Earth?

Why is democracy not the true solution?

Why do Christians not trust politicians? OK, why doesn't anybody... ?

Why is it good to be disillusioned?

What limitations must we acknowledge?

Why is it reasonable to abstain from voting?

How should Christians oppose abortion?

Why did early Christians not advocate abolition of slavery?

Why do Christians not make environmental protection a primary concern?

Restore Scripture View

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They often are not even well-informed. Politicians have a well-earned reputation for avoiding direct, clear answers. And what seems at first to be direct and clear can on reflection be found to have been highly selective, ignoring important facts. A biased media pretends to inform the electorate, but slants in favor of one side, against another, and ignores all other views. Partisan activists baldly lie to arouse indignation against the other side, depending on voters to not check the facts (or even care about them) but to vote instead on fear or anger. Voters seek out strident voices that confirm their own prejudices, refusing to even briefly consider any other views. Facts become 'alternative facts,' and objective truth is pushed aside. In these conditions democracy can turn up a Trump card. What next?

Anyone who tries to be politically informed by watching television interviews and commentary will be frustrated by the lack of depth of real information. These sources will praise the proposals they favor with generalities and demonize the alternatives with disinformation and distortions. Talk shows are designed to produce heat, not light. They have found more people are drawn to a fight than to a substantial discussion. They do not really try to help voters thoughtfully judge the merits of proposed solutions by examining them in real detail or by rationally exploring possible consequences of alternate choices. How dull! And how could you ever fit that into a 30-second sound bite? They judge the public to be too dense or disinterested for such things, and to some extent that judgment is correct. Those who yearn for workable solutions and want to discuss substantial ideas may complain about the "horse-race" coverage, but those voters are just ignored. And even when a good pointed question is asked, politicians are masters of the dodge and know they can run out the clock. The program's allotted time is over, on to sports! On this our "democracy" is "working." You think?

As columnist Kathleen Parker recently observed, commenting on events of 2019, "Democracy fails if the populace is uninformed, misinformed, or disinformed." Under the spell of their chosen leader, so many believe what they want to believe, and disregard the rest, as a popular song once said. Cults are not just for religions.

Some have pointed out that no "democratic" country is really a democracy, meaning direct rule by citizen vote. Some are not democratic at all, and the rest are republics, meaning that the people can change the law only by representatives, not directly, and these representatives are supposed to be more deliberative and wise than the masses. In actual practice, the law is what the influential and powerful say it is, and the representatives are mostly "wise" in getting re-elected, often by perverting and corrupting the electoral process (see 'gerrymander'). But we can say this: the representatives do represent the people who keep re-electing them, short-sightedness and selfishness included.

This youtube video is instructive, if you are still inclined to have faith in the so-called "democratic" governments.

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How to wreck a nation: Imagine a long-established successful company employing many workers at living wages, making things that people need, appliances that last for decades. Such are the foundation of a sound economy. Now comes a "private equity firm" that borrows billions from investors (trying to make money out of money) to "buy" the company. They pay themselves huge "fees" from the borrowed money, then resell the company to other investors trying to make money with their money. Walking away with billions from the sale, they leave the company and its new owners deep in debt. The story ends with workers jobless outside bankrupted factories, and the last investors with heavy losses. Or, desperate to make money, the last investors move the work overseas to exploit slave-wage workers making a product redesigned to be as cheap as possible so that it barely lasts until the warranty runs out. Then the thieves, the only ones who end up with wealth, pay the politicians to tell us that this is PROGRESS. And we will all be fine if we just WORK HARD and PLAY BY THE RULES. And that is not YOUR money stacked around me, I EARNED it.

Obvious lesson that is apparently difficult to learn: "making" money by shuffling money around is NOT the foundation of a sound economy.

We are reminded of poor villagers in Africa that run toward a leaking gasoline pipeline with buckets and lit cigarettes. The thieves, that is, the speculators, that pump the global economy to their advantage with things like "hostile takeovers", "derivatives", "short selling" and "credit default swaps" are really the same. Greed and desperate poverty blinds the poor villagers to the conflagration ahead. In the same way, greed and utter poverty of morality blinds the financial gamblers to the economic destruction they cause. But in their case, it is our 'village', our homes, in time even the nation, and some fear the entire global economy, that is engulfed—while they have not even been singed. Yet. —see Jeremiah 5:27-29, 22.13.

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For example, not littering, being very careful and sparing with pesticides, taking advantage of available recycling programs, buying quality products that have a long service life (and taking good care of them) rather than having a throw-away mentality, and so on. Basic, common sense things, really. Although some think that anyone who owns an SUV must surely hate the earth, that is a choice to be weighed in the light of many factors. We would not get one just for status, but if we often have to drive on rough roads, or off-road (such as to take the word to people in rural areas), an SUV might be our most reasonable choice.