The entire world is in captivity and yet it is assumed to be free. Humanity is in captivity, not through enforcement by anyone or anything, but voluntarily. Physical nature demands attachment to the planet earth. The phenomenon of Jesus ascending up to heaven is not applicable to ordinary humanity. The force of gravity does not allow physical humans to access freedom, achievable through Jesus, as displayed at His ascension.
However, Jesus declared that He was the way the truth and the life. If believing in Jesus, the phenomenon of physical attachment is not applicable to humanity. The starting point is in appreciated that God cannot be likened to anything physical, in this world. He is outside anything that can be imagined but described in the spiritual identity of humanity, created in God’s image. Therefore, humanity is also described in God’s spiritual identity.
What makes it difficult for humans to appreciate God’s image, is the assumption of a relationship with physical nature, rather than Godly nature. The condition of physical nature robs humanity of its reasoning capacity. This is why even the racial identity or the person’s gender gets considered as carrying significance. Three aspects of humanity, that cause misunderstanding, have to be dissected, for purposes of understanding.
The first condition that goes contrary to spirituality is the sexual fantasy that physical humans are commonly attached to. There are many physical temptations that can lure humanity out of spiritual condition, but none appears more lethal than sexual immorality. The apostle Paul touched on this subject, which remains misunderstood. Sexual abuse has incapacitated effective servants of God, having fallen victim to this vice, over the years.
“Now for the matters, you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfil his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband”(1 Corinthians 7:1-3 NIV).
There is more to this Scripture than meets the eye. Paul says it is good for a man not to marry. This seems to agree with Jesus’ comments in Luke 14:26-27, which most people prefer to ignore. Christianity should never be regarded as a casual matter, as assumed to be, by most people. We are not told much about the condition of the marital families of the disciples. But in following Jesus, their wives and children were not involved, although we are not told of the relational condition of the disciples with those families.
Paul, himself, was not married. But he did not impose the idea of celibacy on his audience. This is just as Jesus also did not impose the idea of not marrying, throughout his ministry. Paul had a tough time, with the Corinthian Christian believers, coming directly from the raw public. Unlike the Jews, the Gentiles did not have the convenience of God’s Laws.
Conversion to follow Christ requires a hundred per cent commitment. Did those Corinthian Christians understand the significance of following Christ in that manner? The entire epistle to the Corinthians shows that those people were struggling with the condition of sexual passions. Jesus did not directly deal with Gentiles; although others accessed His teachings, by chance.
“For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go’ and he goes; and that one; ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well(Luke 7:6-10 NIV).
This centurion was a Gentile authority. It is quite possible that his interaction with Jesus may have later caused him to become one of the Christian believers. Becoming a Christian believer does not require the adoption of Jewish Laws. It requires understanding the principle of faith, emanating from appreciating being God’s Child. It is not sustained in physical nature.
It must have been a robust challenge for Paul to help those Corinthians to understand that sex was of this world. A true Christian believer cannot commit himself to follow Christ and be entangled in sexual matters, at the same time. However, as Paul suggested, one could still be married and be a Christian believer, at the same time. Both husband and wife could be in the ministry.
But what happens when the other is not converted? A Christian cannot be able to give God, a hundred per cent dedication when having to take care of marital responsibilities, at the same time. Divorce is not applicable to God’s children. Marriage can pose a real dilemma among God’s children. The unconverted partner cannot be treated badly, in the name of Christianity.
Divorce is possible with nonbelievers, but impossible with believers. This is what Paul was attempting to highlight with those, apparently, immoral Christian believers. One has to be like the previously highlighted centurion, in understanding the principle of faith. Yet most believers struggle, even with spiritual milk, as Paul lamented? (1 Cor. 3:1-4). This throws a curve, entangling the person’s spiritual condition. Jesus addressed the marital challenges.
“Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brothers, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matthew 22:24-32 NIV).
Jesus was articulating a point that God’s Kingdom is not affected by physical conditions. His audience had been occupied with the assumption that at resurrection physical flesh would be of significance. However, the physical existence was designed within birth, growth, decay and destruction. There is no physical survival condition that outlasts this pattern. On the question of divorce Jesus was unambiguous:
“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, ‘If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men, and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it”(Matthew 19:9-12 NIV).
The above Scripture clarifies the point that Spiritual existence cannot be likened to physical existence. It is impossible for one existing physically to accept that Spiritual and physical conditions are not related. To understand the Spiritual reality, it is necessary to renounce conditions of physical existence. Jesus was responding to those stuck in assuming that life is limited to physical existence.
Jesus did not banish marriages for the purpose of accepting God’s Kingdom. It is still possible to advance God’s Kingdom, within the marital union. However, this should not be construed as suggesting God’s Kingdom brings harmony to marriages (Matthew 10:34-36). God’s child portrays the distinction between Godly attributes, as compared with physical existence.
One’s partner may not be a believer. But an unbelieving partner would be blessed when associating with a Christian believer. A nonbeliever may not understand the behaviour of the Christian believer. But a true Christian believer understands the nonbeliever, as to compromise on most physical conditions.
Bear in mind those Christian believers are extroverts, benefiting nonbelievers, more than believers. The giving principle portrays submission to another person’s interests, more than one’s own interests (Philippians 2:3). Nonbelievers should enjoy the blessing of being associated with believers.
There is no need to spend time trying to convert non-believing partners. They cannot see what God’s children see unless God opens their eyes (John 6:44). Peter advised women with unconverted husbands to follow this noble principle.
“Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives,when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornments, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight(1 Peter 3:1-4).
Peter’s recommendation belongs to extroverts, who do not consider their own interests ahead of those of their spouses. Of course, they put God above everything, so as not to compromise on God’s calling. But as far as physical needs are concerned, an extrovert gives without restraint.
The second aspect, entrapping humanity, is that personalities are different, but each depicts God’s image, regardless of unawareness. Physical personalities do not identify with God’s image. Some people appear intelligent or less intelligent than others, but nothing invalidates their Godly attributes. Paul said flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s Kingdom (1 Corinthians 15:50). Invalidating the physical nature is possible, after discovering one’s true identity.
To the enlightened ones, the physical status carries no significance. A spiritual person ceases to consider physical humans according to recognized statuses. He is above that stupidity. Even the President of the USA, or the Queen of England, is not of significance to God’s children. Yet God’s children would not invalidate even the most despised of society.
God’s children seek to understand people rather than being understood by people. They are a peculiar breed, but not crafted to attract admiration from anyone. They are not different from God, and Jesus. They do not mourn over people failing to understand them. They focus on God’s will more than their personal desires.
The third and last hindrance to Spiritual identity concerns traditional habits. Having become born into a world, whose structures are accepted as normal, physical people cannot be extricated from worldliness. Hence, to overcome commonly accepted traditions, it is essential to recognize that Jesus is the only authority, under the sun.
Regardless of how intelligent or how advanced, one might appear to be, one remains insignificant to God’s Children. Of course, this statement does not invite ostentatious consideration but merely states the undeniable truth. Failure to appreciate it causes failure among Christian believers.
They are intimidated by traditional establishments, more than by spiritual establishments. They get overwhelmed by human authorities, although having become God’s children, and are not different from Jesus. After conversion, they think as God thinks. They laugh as God laughs. They are disappointed as long as God is also disappointed. What you see in them reflects God’s trueness.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment: In this world, we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (John 4:16-21).
One cannot fool oneself, by assuming to know God when unable to know oneself. The starting point is truly knowing one’s own identity, before claiming to know God. If created in God’s image, what went wrong? Why would one look for God elsewhere, rather than in oneself, as created in God’s image? These are questions that, when answered correctly, can solve one’s concept of worshipping God.
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. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99