There are those insisting that God’s Church exists in orthodox Christianity. That cannot be true, as God’s Church is distinguishable by being uncommon and resisted—as not descriptive of orthodox Christianity. That Church is a spiritual organism—opposed to anything physically observable. This is why Jesus categorically stated:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few”(Matthew 7:13-14) (ESV).
The wide gate being described by Jesus, uniformly defines orthodox Christianity. The mystically rare Christians—refusing to subscribe to what identifies with the majority, are labelled with the tag “heretics.”
Interestingly, the early Christians were similarly delineated—causing vast persecution of the brethren. Though not fortuitously described, explicitly, as heretics during their time, those early Christians were regarded heretically.
However, this does not necessarily mean that being rejected, always implies being associated with truth. Yet there is truth in that those being rejected for refusing to yield against Jesus’ word, are on the Lord’s side. Even though facing stiff opposition, prejudicial against their physical lives.
In Jesus’ days there was religious fanaticism, which made heresy abominable and punishable by death. However, there doesn’t seem to be such Jewish religious fanatics in our time, as was the case in the first century. Nevertheless, this does not take away the fact that there is escalation of Godlessness, as causing more harm to ordinary humanity.
The early disciples were alienated to ordinary religious people, associated with the Law of Moses. The familiar religious groups of that time were Pharisees and Sadducees—being supported by the Scribes. However, the Pharisees and Sadducees were doctrinally opposed to each other (Acts 23:6-10).
But they were not as estranged—as both seemed generally united, in their opposition to Christianity. In other words, as far as those religious groups’ conviction was concerned, only heresy was not tolerated. Heresy was to be punishable by death—according to their statutes.
Though appearing grossly fanatical, those religious groupings tolerated each other, similarly to how they tolerated the sinful world around them. The world around them also tolerated them, in their religious endeavours. Yet they were united in not tolerating those considered as teaching heresy. This was basically the source of unmitigated Christian persecution.
In other words, those religious groups blended well with everyone else around them, whether infidels or worshippers of idols. But they could not tolerate those they considered as teaching heresy, like those early Christians.
The similar scenario exists with mainstream Christianity—when considering its known blended relationship with the environment. The general conduct of this world is as opposed to God as having supported the murder of Jesus.
Just as those of the first century were opposed to Jesus—subscribe to His murder—nothing has changed. It may be a question of there being not many people currently preaching the truths of Jesus. Otherwise, Jesus remains unacceptable to the entire humanity.
Prophetic Scriptures, actually, point at escalation of evils—manifesting in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-7). This is notwithstanding Christianity having since numerically increased by leaps and bounds. The paradox highlights the fact that our modern Christianity has generally become akin to the sinful world.
Those focusing only in assuming that the prevalence of Christianity, everywhere, is service to God, are generally among the deceived. Such are Christians who take comfort in so-called blessings—coming with prosperity. They prefer avoiding Scriptures like the one shown below:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17) (ESV).
It may be true that this is one of the most popularly quoted passages of Scripture, among Christian communities. The problem is on the principle of application—whose ruthless demands, go against those using it to produce fiery sermons. Yet glossing over its content, especially the following line, as uttered by the apostle John:
“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:16) (ESV).
Sadly, those assuming that this is just another Scripture to be glossed over, are indeed still clouded in confusion. The problem with deception is that there is comfort in deception—more than there ought to be comfort, only outside the area of deception. There is more comfort in deception than can be imagined when choosing to adopt what is truthful.
In other words, the only proof of having embraced falsehood can be experienced when taking comfort in assuming being right. Of course, this datum does not appeal to the majority, but that does not mean it itself cannot be true. See [.http://newcivilization.co.zw/permanent-hindrance-towards-access-to-knowledge/]
How can one avoid flesh’s desires, when existing in flesh? It takes only a deceived person to assume that avoiding flesh’s desires is easy. We exist in sinful condition because of our existence in fleshly condition.
There is no dispute in the fact that, in His time, Jesus loved and served people in their fleshly condition. But doing so, did not mean that Jesus sought to buy their loyalty towards Him. He never encourage anyone of them to follow Him:
“Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple’” (Luke 14:25-27) (ESV).
These words may appear as not coming from the same Jesus—so loved by many, in our Christian world? No wonder why we have some people desiring to rewrite the Bible. This Scripture alone can be baffling, if not as confusing as portraying a person left alone in the wilderness.
If anyone desires to be labelled as a heretic, let Him be bold enough to insist on taking verbatim, Jesus’ Words, in this Scripture. Theologians, are the ones particularly, predisposed to denounce such a person. They denounce those they consider as advancing incorrect teachings—thereby giving themselves licence to label such people as “heretics.”
But there should be comfort in being criticised—when fully aware that the originator of what is considered heresy, is none other than Christ Himself. When courageously quoting Jesus, verbatim, one risks being killed—just as Jesus was also killed. If Jesus was hated by those of this world, as to be killed—those of this world cannot allow freedom to His true followers.
This is why John’s advice was against loving this world. However, this does not imply that it is virtuous to hate people of this world. Jesus specifically displayed His love for all—showing willingness to die for them on the cross. We are advised to do likewise (1 John 3:16).
Hating the world implies avoiding the customs and traditions of this world. This is why Jesus talked about denouncing, even one’s own parents, in order to become His follower. Here Jesus was showing the intensity by which one has to renounce what is characterized as being of this world.
Our relatives are naturally connected to customs and traditions of this world. They can never forgive a relative, appearing as neglecting their own interests—as delineated in customs and traditions. Succumbing to their desires, against God’s Will, is more evil, than ditching them, in favour of God’s Will.
But there is more to it. Following Christ is tantamount to stripping oneself of own liberty—so to speak. As in physical flesh, a person desires to accomplish ambitions and be honoured lavishly—desiring also to live longer.
This is true of any individual—including yours truly—as author of this article. There is nothing special, even when being used by God—so long as existing in physical flesh. What eludes most Christians is that the sinfulness that caused Jesus’ death, is in flesh—regardless of whether one is a Law-keeper or not.
If it was only a matter of Law-keeping, it would have not been necessary for Jesus to die on the cross. The Law had all along been there for anyone to obey and live. In fact, the Pharisees could have been passed as the most astute law-keepers, in Jesus’ time.
The apostle Paul, as the former Pharisee, himself, could willingly attest to that reality. I suppose, to ordinary people, nothing appears wrong with “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions?”
However, what matters is a question of going by God’s will—which is diametrically opposed to all things physical. Jesus never cherished anything physical in this world. His focus was on God’s will, as it remained opposed to anything physical—just as Jesus demonstrated this reality at Gethsemane:
“Then he said to them; ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.’ And going a little farther, he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:38) (ESV).
When carefully analysing this passage of Scripture, one realises that Jesus—though succumbing to being killed—was not doing so out of weakness. He offered Himself to die on the cross, due to consideration of God’s will, ahead of His own physical desires.
Here was Jesus, displaying the natural reality of two opposing forces, ferociously opposed to each other. The physical nature of Jesus could not accept pain, associated with flesh—as resentful of death.
All humans, existing in physical nature, desire survival, rather than physically dying. Flesh, with its pulls of physical survival, is not associated with God, as the only life-giver. One acts foolishly, when comfortable in flesh’s demands.
This does not imply subscribing to committing suicide, in order to then be associated with God. It requires unflinching obedience, as displayed by Jesus, when facing the most difficult moments of His physical life:
‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Emphasis mind) (Matthew 26:38).
In Jesus we have the characteristics of what it takes to be God’s child. This has got nothing to do with the person’s wishes, but God’s will. The human tendency is to follow everything that invites respect and worldly glory—rather than succumbing to being labelled as a heretic.
It takes Jesus’ character to ignore scornful derisions, associated with the heretical label and possibly being rejected by friends and family members. In Christianity, nothing is attractive—as long as associated with physical nature.
Although nothing appears wrong with enjoying benevolences of Christianity, in light of Jesus’ love—as displayed in the first century. However, what is most futile is calling oneself a Christian—yet attracted to those Christian benevolences that entertain fleshly desires.
Submission to Christ, is as good as succumbing to death. This is what Jesus implied in Luke 14:25-27. The person deciding to follow Christ may be admired, from some quarters. But such admirations should not cloud his vision—when considering the magnitude of being called by God.
This is a person who no longer enjoys life in physical nature. He/she resembles Paul, recorded as having willingly accepting death, when stating: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure has come” (2 Timothy 4:6) (ESV).
A true Christian is willing to experience everything whether in life or death. Life is enjoyable, only when committed to God’s Will, more than own will. That person willingly accepts death—coming only when God allows it to come.
The living may moan at that person’s physical demise. But the same person celebrates being taken out of this sinful world (Philippians 1:21). This describes the value of true life in Christianity, as opposed to flesh—perishing when interred in earthly grave.
Nevertheless, all this can neither be understood, nor taken as acceptable to Orthodoxy—focusing on preservation of physical life, instead. A true Christian is a new creation—no longer controlled by flesh, with attributes of death.
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 decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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