The term “Christian” assumes behaving like Christ, who revealed Godliness. Jesus insisted that everything He taught came from His Father. Jesus showed an aspect of Godliness to humanity. Humans cannot go directly to God, without Jesus. A true Christian behaves like Jesus. Otherwise, there would be a misrepresentation.
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” (John 8:28-29 NIV).
In direct conjecture, Jesus assured His disciples that they were not alone. When on earth, Jesus portrayed every aspect of Godliness. Therefore, He made it abundantly clear that a Christian carries the attributes of Godliness.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:16-21 NIV).
Five pivots, can be a barometer, helping believers to assess their conduct, whether meeting Christian standards or not. True Christians cannot be assessed by common behaviours of the environment. Their approval is only as their minds display Jesus’s behaviour. There is no room for uncertainty, when confidently aware of being at one with God.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”(Matthew 7:21-23 NIV).
Among those to inherit God’s Kingdom, cowards are not included. If a Christian, but unable to confront evil, because of fear, one may as well not call Himself a Christian. The overwhelming intimidation from those wielding arms of war has caused many Christians to succumb to fear.
“Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”(Revelation 21:7-8 NIV).
In Zimbabwe, many people have died defending their convictions. Yet we have many, calling themselves Christians, who have been heard ridiculing those having died in that manner. They assume that those dying for their convictions are not wise. The common view is that there is wisdom in succumbing to the whims of murderers. What does Jesus say?
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”(Matthew 10:28 NIV).
When unable to stand up for the truth, fearing for your life, don’t call yourself a Christian. Among those destroyed in hell, the cowards are mentioned first (Revelations 21:8). The Israelites who perished in the wilderness, displayed cowardice (Numbers 14).
This is a serious matter. Zimbabwe currently languishes in desperation, as a result of Christian cowardice. Many blatantly evil things have been committed by those in government. However, the cowardly Christians maintain that they are mandated to support the government of the day, even though such a government commits crimes against humanity.
Things have continued to deteriorate in Zimbabwe, due to tolerating such nonsense. Those assuming that it is impossible to detect false Christians, in this world, are either, deceived, or are deceivers. God does not tolerate evil. This includes those assumed to be helpless, as not in leadership.
True Christians are not directed by leadership viewpoints. True Christians take instructions directly from God. They are God’s instruments, unwilling to succumb to the whims of ordinary people. A good example is that of David, in his encounter with Goliath.
Where were the community leaders, when David confronted the giant? They were in their enclaves, due to fear. It took young David, to confront the infidel. There is no folly that surpasses the folly of calling oneself a Christian, when afraid of death.
Cowardice is the first test of Christianity, enabling truthful evaluation of oneself. Jesus disapproved pretenders, more than sinful characters. Pretenders are worst, as serving to dilute the conviction of the newly converted believers. They are the true wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Possibly, the only reason a Christian would be associated with cowardice is unbelief. A doubting person cannot achieve anything, even in this life. Doubtful people can never be Christians. True Christians are the ones in whose lives God dwells. How possible can it be for such people to doubt?
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”(Matthew 17:19-20 NIV).
Among doubting people may, actually, be those aware of where the truth lies. Their comfort is found in between truth and falsehood. Jesus tried to wake such people up, from their slumber, rather than for them to remain in the lukewarm comfort zone.
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”(Revelation 3:14-17 NIV).
Jesus would rather tolerate extreme wickedness than tolerate being lukewarm. Truthfulness requires standing up for one’s convictions. This cannot be possible, when in doubt. Obviously, from doubt stems cowardice, which almost drowned Peter.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”(Matthew 14:28-31 NIV).
Fear is a result of doubting, emanating from unbelief. It is one thing to take Jesus’s words as a truthful datum. But it is quite another to hear Jesus and doubt His teachings. There is no problem when identifying oneself as a nonChristians.
The only reason why one cannot understand Christianity is a lack of humility. One may be extremely intelligent, and appearing wise. But, a lack of humility causes one to fail on the principle of Godliness. In the field of education, the first obstacle to learning is the assumption that one knows, it already.
There is not much to say about humility, as impossible for anyone to be associated with Christianity, without humility. One who thinks he knows, cannot be teachable. This explains the reason why the religious Pharisees could not learn anything from Jesus. Lack of humility is an attribute that springs directly from Satan.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 5:3 NIV).
As the first among the beatitudes, humility is the gateway to Christianity. When assuming to be rich in Godliness one cannot acquire anything associated with Godliness. Jesus illustrated this point, using a parable with two petitioners. One was a Pharisee and the other a Publican.
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves, will be humbled, and those who humble themselves, will be exalted.”(Luke 18:1014 NIV).
Jesus explained this reality, using the illustration of children. Jesus stated that it would be impossible for anyone to access God’s Kingdom unless displaying an attitude similar to that of children. Similarly, leadership ought to be characterized by servitude. (Matthew 20:25-28).
With the comfort in self-trust, it cannot be possible to attain humility without prayer. Therefore, prayer should be regarded as an essential principle leading towards Godliness. Without prayer, one remains comfortable in his assumption that he doesn’t need God. This is especially so, with those leading the seemingly, trouble-free lifestyles.
If lucky, one can be humbled by God, taking away everything that the person takes comfort in. Such an experience could help one to realize the need to submit to God. When carefully following the principle of prayer, one becomes stronger, spiritually. Prayer implies seeking God’s will, more than asking God to submit to one’s own will.
Unfortunately, prayer has often been reduced to asking for favours from God. We hear of All-night Prayers, and stuff like that. All intended to persuade God to submit to one’s will, when petitioning God for help. Jesus clearly stated that this was the method used by unbelievers who assumed God did not understand their situation.
When Jesus gave what is commonly referred to as ‘Lord’s Prayer’, He was unpacking guidelines, through which Prayer had to be conducted. However, pretenders find convenience in shelving that guideline given by Jesus in that prayer, using their own eloquence, assumed as more pleasing to God.
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”(Matthew 6:7-8 NIV).
Jesus clearly provided the procedure on how to pray, in verse 9. This does not mean reciting those words, verbatim. This was a guideline, through which the petitioner follows, towards applying God’s mind, in all his endeavours. Prayer helps in applying God’s mind on issues of survival. As no longer of this world, the petitioner needs guidance on prayer.
Without self-denial, it is impossible to deal with the stubbornness of human nature. Depriving one of food and water, induces humility, helping the person to appreciate the futility of trusting self. Without food, one realizes the futility of surviving without God.
Humility can be experienced when following proper methods of fasting. The recommended method during fasting could be: 1) Bible Studying. 2) Praying. 3) Meditation. When using relevant Scriptures, during the fasting period, one allows God to communicate with one. The three activities can be used interchangeably. The apostle Paul received a satisfactory answer, accordingly.
“……..Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”(2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV).
To attain Godliness, one needs Prayer and Fasting, leading to humility. So that one can be teachable. One would then believe in the Bible, and avoid being uncertain, as removing doubt in his mind. A few Christians, standing up with such conviction, in a country such as ours, can make a difference.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the 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 relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99