We Need Jehovah’s Organization
HAVE you ever heard someone say, “I believe in God but not in organized religion”?
Similar viewpoints are often expressed by individuals who were once enthusiastic churchgoers but who became disillusioned by the failure of their religion to meet their spiritual needs. Although disappointed by religious organizations in general, many insist that they still want to worship God. They believe, however, that it is better to worship him in their own way than to do so in association with a church or other organization.
What does the Bible say? Does God want Christians to be associated with an organization?
Early Christians Benefited by Being Organized.
At Pentecost 33 C.E., Jehovah poured out his holy spirit, not upon a few isolated believers, but upon a group of men and women who came together “at the same place,” namely, in an upper room in the city of Jerusalem. (Acts 2:1) At that time, the Christian congregation, which became an international organization, was formed. This proved to be a real blessing for those early disciples. Why? For one thing, they had been given an important assignment—that of preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom eventually “in all the inhabited earth.” (Matthew 24:14) In the congregation new converts could learn from experienced fellow believers how to carry on the preaching work.
Soon the Kingdom message spread far beyond the walls of Jerusalem. Between 62 and 64 C.E., the apostle Peter wrote his first letter to Christians who were “scattered about in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,” all in modern-day Turkey. (1 Peter 1:1) There were also believers in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Greece, Crete, and Italy. As Paul wrote to the Colossians in 60-61 C.E., the good news had been “preached in all creation that is under heaven.”—Colossians 1:23.
A second benefit of associating with an organization was the encouragement Christians could give to one another. In association with the congregation, Christians could hear inspiring discourses, study the Sacred Scriptures together, share faith-strengthening experiences, and join fellow believers in prayer. (1 Corinthians, chapter 14) And mature men could “shepherd the flock of God.”—1 Peter 5:2.
As members of the congregation, Christians also got to know one another and came to love one another. Far from feeling burdened by their association with the congregation, the early Christians were built up and strengthened by it.—Acts 2:42; 14:27; 1 Corinthians 14:26; Colossians 4:15, 16.
Another reason that the united worldwide congregation, or organization, was needed was to promote unity. Christians learned to “speak in agreement.” (1 Corinthians 1:10) This was vital. Members of the congregation came from a variety of educational and social backgrounds. They spoke different languages, and they had obvious differences in personality. (Acts 2:1-11) At times, there were honest differences of opinion. However, Christians were helped to resolve such differences within the congregation.—Acts 15:1, 2; Philippians 4:2, 3.
Serious questions that could not be handled by local elders were referred to mature traveling overseers, such as Paul. Vital doctrinal matters were referred to a central governing body located in Jerusalem. The governing body was initially made up of the apostles of Jesus Christ but was later extended to include older men of the congregation in Jerusalem. Each congregation recognized the God-given authority of the governing body and its representatives to organize the ministry, appoint men to positions of service, and make decisions on doctrinal matters. When an issue was settled by the governing body, the congregations accepted the decision and “rejoiced over the encouragement.”—Acts 15:1, 2, 28, 30, 31.
Yes, Jehovah used an organization in the first century. But what about today?