The primary requirement for all human beings is protection, which is guaranteed for those that Jesus calls His own. This is why Jesus said the gates of hell shall not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18).
However, the protection that Jesus referred to is different from the humanly understood protection. That protection may mean terminating someone’s physical life, in order to ensure the spiritual safety of the same individual.
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one”(John 10:28-30) (ESV).
Healing people in their sickly condition and doing many other virtuous miracles, had nothing to do with the protection of His own, as implied by Jesus. Also, maintaining good moral values, viewed as another way, appearing as concluding how God protects His own, is beside the point.
The protection through maintaining good moral values resonates well with how God protected the Israelites in the Old Covenant. The Israelites’ protection was conditional to keeping God’s Laws. However, while keeping God’s laws is good, it is not associated with Jesus’ promise to protect His own from the evil one.
Doing what is good to other people is a principle that is encoded in the nature of God’s Kingdom. But it is not associated with the condition that encompasses the protection of those that Jesus calls His own.
This is just as, when Jesus was here, he catered for the needs of people with varieties of human problems. At one stage He even helped the merrymakers at a wedding feast, after wine had run out (John 2:1-12).
The miraculous production of the wine had not been intended to cause the revellers to believe in Jesus. They actually didn’t even know where the new wine had come from. The only ones who knew what had happened were those who had been asked to fill up the jars with water.
We have to first understand the context of what Jesus meant in referring to those that are His own. Jesus sought to protect those whom, in various Scriptures, He referred to as the little ones who believed in Him. Jesus does not tolerate those causing such little ones to stumble (Matthew 18:5-6). He views those little ones as not ordinary people.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God”(John 1:12) (ESV).
To be given a right to be called a child of God is the greatest privilege the world has ever known. While this is clearly revealed in the Bible, ordinary Christians are not aware of the significance of being God’s child.
Most Christians assume that God’s protection refers to physical provisions, accessed as reward for maintaining good moral values. They fail to appreciate the free gift, enunciated by Paul (Romans 6:23).
Jesus sought to address this misconception, when He gave the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, in Luke 18-9-14. The Pharisees believed that people are rewarded for doing virtuous acts in this life.
They could not appreciate the free gift aspect, as carrying the package of Eternal life. I suppose the advocates of hard work can easily assume that Romans 6:23 contradicts what Jesus said in Luke 14:25-33?
I cannot think of anything as expensive as surrendering everything that the person has, including own life, to follow Jesus? Obviously, this can further mislead a person stuck in believing that this confirms hard work being necessary to attain salvation?
Such a person can, actually, even be judgmental on those considered as not applying moral laws as understood from the Old Testament teachings. But unfortunately, that makes the person sink deeper into sin, as the Samaritan and Tax collector parable reveals.
The free gift aspect ought to be understood in the concept of allowing God to do His freewill in one’s life. All this would be possible after appreciating who God is. This happens to be the most difficult facet of Christianity.
A lot of Christians suppose they understand Jesus, when completely mystified by what Jesus taught. I suppose most Christians, simply, omit or gloss over Scriptures like the following one, in their Bible studies?
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”(Matthew 16:24-25) (ESV)
Failure to understand this, has led the prosperity gospel to take root in modern Christianity. Through testimonies being given among Christians, the ordinary ones assume that physical blessings are best examples of God’s protection. The displayed physical blessings are used as signs of God’s protection. See [Experiences of death into Eternal life].
But a person having become God’s child, cannot continue to conform to this world. The newness of that person is in having stopped being controlled by customs and traditions of this world, whether moralistic or not.
That person takes orders directly from God, in the same way that Jesus’ behaviours did not fit in the systematic patterns of this world. There are those claiming to love Jesus. Yet unable to agree with Him who rebutted His own relatives, in front of everyone (Matthew 12:47-49). (See [Being conformed rather than being transformed].
How about Scriptures like: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”(Matthew 6:25) (ESV).
Obviously, all this can easily be regarded as contrary to common sense? Planning for one’s future needs is associated with prudence and responsibility. Why should one, when still finding a lot of sense in this, continue calling oneself a dedicated Christian?
The truth that cannot be denied is that those of this world cannot be on the same wavelength with those of Heaven. The religiously approved clergy are obsessed with projecting how Jesus applied moral laws of this world.
Such clergy, accordingly, gloss over those Scriptures that are not in line with their denominational doctrines. I remember, one pastor attempting to convince me that the miraculous wine at Cana in Galilee, was different from the wine that causes people to be drunk? (John 2:1-12).
However, I fully understood such pastors. How else could they answer the question, when all along preaching how necessary it is to avoid alcohol? But they avoid the truth that a person cannot be God’s child and live.
Paul likened God’s child to the one having gone through death. People have often celebrated when someone is baptized. But the truth is that if such people, moan for their dead relatives, they ought to also moan for those having decided to be baptized:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” Romans 6:3-4) (ESV).
One cannot become a new creation when still alive. Getting into that state of submission, means that death is no longer associated with that person. This is notwithstanding that ordinary people still view the physical existence of such a Christian.
Certainly, what is advisable is for relatives to consider him/her as dead. That person’s relatives would still relate with him/her, but he/she would be completely unrelated to them. They may still find him/her helpful to their causes, but the person would be unrelated to them.
This is what the newness of life entails. The person can be bitterly hated by relatives, who fail to understand him/her. But, the same person does not take offence, as he/she totally understands those who are viciously against him/her.
This is why Jesus said He did not come to bring peace, but a sword. A true Christian is at variance with his own relatives. This is just as Jesus advises that person to love Jesus more than those relatives (Matthew 10:34-39).
At conversion, most Christians desire to bring their own relatives into understanding the truth. But doing so can be a futile mistake. Such Christians ought to copy the behaviour of their Saviour Jesus Christ.
Jesus, as our only authority, needs to be emulated in every aspect of behaviour, wherever possible. Jesus never proselytized people to follow Him. But, He actually, discouraged them from doing so.
How then, does Jesus protect His own? The answer is in that Christianity goes against what this world approves. True Christians get persecuted severely, or even getting killed.
But such persecutions are what keeps such Christians focused towards God. The story of David shows that his strongest spiritual condition was when he was being persecuted by Soul.
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong”(2 Corinthians 12:7-10) (ESV).
However, the greatest protection of Christians is death. The protection of the first century disciples was in being put to death. While their enemies assumed having silenced their cause, they actually promoted those Christians by killing them (Revelation 20:4).
While in physical life enemies of Christianity are regarded as causing painful stress, such persecutors ought to be regarded as best friends of Christians. If David was a man after God’s own heart, it is because of persecutions, particularly, those persecutions that he experienced through King Saul.
Most of the inspirational Psalms of David were written during his trials, imposed on him by King Saul. Such trials were special, in christening David to become one of the greatest instruments in God’s hands. I suppose there are many other Biblical examples of such people?
“Count it all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. …..Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him(James 1:2-12) (ESV).
This is why Jesus seems to have implied that persecutions were prerequisite to those intending to be in God’s Kingdom (Matthew 5:10-12). Instead of asking God to take away trials, true Christians ought to be thankful for such trials. It is in trials that God’s children are protected, rather than in enjoying good life in this physical world.
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.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99