It will surprise many that the term ‘Christianity’ is of pagan origin (Acts 11:26). Jesus Christ never instructed His followers to call themselves Christians. The few times of mentioning the term, by Paul and once by Peter, resulted from its general usage by the gentiles.
Jesus Christ had referred Himself as the Son of the living God. His followers would also be expected to refer themselves as sons and daughters of the living God. Christians, as known today, are mostly not identified as sons and daughters of the living God. Instead, their behavior and actions qualify them as children of this world.
One interesting revelation about Jesus is that He could not be distinguished from other ordinary humans. This is why a kiss had to be used to identify Him. Without His serving activities, nothing distinguished Jesus from others. The only sign given to humanity, through the question raised by the Scribes and Pharisees, is found in Matthew 12:38-40. The reason why, those Scribes and Pharisees sought for a different sign, was because, as Jesus said, they belonged to the evil and adulterous generation.
In this world, titles are used to distinguish people’s classes. Unless identified with certification, a Medical practitioner is not a ‘Doctor’. Just as only the passing of a particular examination, considered superior, may entitle you with professorial certification. All this being the pattern to distinguish classes of people in the present world. Christians are similarly identified.
However, in God’s Kingdom, the pattern is different. Christ took an opportunity to teach about this difference when the mother of James and John, had desired superior positions for her sons (Matthew 20:20-28). The woman had been considering titles, commonly, in accordance with the pattern of this world.
In His answer, Jesus declared that the woman didn’t know what she was talking about. Still not quite getting it, she insisted that her two sons would do whatever it took, to be accorded with those positions. Obviously, she loved Jesus and thought she fully understood the principles of God’s Kingdom. Jesus had to leave her grappling with the fact that the allocation of positions in God’s Kingdom is of God, regardless of a person’s sacrifices.
‘Impress’ and ‘express’, are two helpful English terms that I will use in differentiating between what is current, against the requirements of God’s Kingdom. For instance, if I am to be accepted in the academic world, I am supposed to ‘impress’ the educational authorities. ‘Expressing’ myself without ‘impressing’ those authorities, would not cut it.
In His sojourn on earth, Jesus did not seek to ‘impress’ anyone. But He clearly ‘expressed’ Himself for who He was. In one of his bouts to tempt Jesus, Satan asked Him to jump from the pinnacle of the Temple. Jesus could have done so, without fail. But he would have only served to ‘impress’ Satan, not necessarily ‘expressing’ Himself for who He actually was.
Most Christians delight in ‘impressing’ others that they are Christians. That makes them feel good and acceptable to God. Some of them, actually, work harder than most of their peers and feel justified to be accorded suitable positions of authority. Like James and John’s mother, they do not know what they would be doing.
But we are what we are, because of what God created us to be who we are. The moment everyone expressed him/herself to be themselves, the Kingdom of God would be fast-tracked. In expressing who we really are, we align with the will of God.
This desire to ‘impress’ is actually manifested in the so-called Lord’s prayer, where most people desire to impress (Matthew 6:7-8). That prayer model, as outlined, does not seek to impress, but to express. It has got nothing to do with today’s Christians, who seek to ‘impress’, instead of ‘expressing’ themselves to be whom they really are.
Just like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, today’s Christians are obsessed in seeking to ‘impress’. This is why they categorize people, according to ranks and social status. Those able to ‘impress’ others, are considered as better Christians, compared to those unable to sufficiently ‘impress’. In such behavior, God is obviously out of the picture.
Matthew 7:21-23 remains enigmatic to most Christians, except for those appreciating the differences between ‘impressing’ and ‘expressing’ in one’s Christian conduct. ‘Expressing’ hastens God’s Kingdom, but ‘impressing’ impedes it.
There are those emphatically using the pulpit to declare that the end of this age is unpredictable. But in Matthew 24:14, Jesus clearly stated that the end of this age would be possible after the gospel of the Kingdom of God would have been proclaimed throughout the world, as a witness?
In other words, it is not possible for Christ to start a new civilization, before the gospel of the Kingdom of God has been heralded throughout the world. The question is: Who is impeding the proclamation of the gospel of the Kingdom of God? In my view, the so-called Christians, obsessed with trying to impress who they are, instead of expressing God’s will, are the real impediments, in the proclamation of God’s Kingdom.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social instability. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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