Here is what can be translated into another axiom: “All humans are potentially good, but also potentially evil.” One of the greatest follies of all time is categorizing humans, according to observed achievements. The general norm is to form opinions, based on conducts and achievements by humans. People reject God when purporting to know God, due to traditional categorization of humans. What causes the categorization of fellow humans is the propensity for idolatry.
Humans were created in God’s image. What constitutes another fellow human is, potentially, as good as God. When invalidating another person, one invalidates God. However, when adulating another person, one is practicing idolatry, because God cannot be likened to anything of this universe.
Jesus could not be idolized. People viewed Him as another ordinary man. As familiar with the Ten Commandments, the Jews ought to have understood that avoiding idolatry required avoiding adulating fellow humans. Similarly, when despising another fellow human, regardless of background, one despises God.
The entire stupidity emanates from the inability to appreciate that God cannot be likened to anything of this world. It is uncomfortable to be rejected by your own people. But Jesus insinuated that to be the only sign that confirms being on the Lord’s side (Matthew 5:10-12). The denial of God starts with rejecting another fellow human being.
“And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.’ And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:53-58) (ESV).
But what could have caused the failure to celebrate one of their own—being clearly used to reveal God’s truth? Some would say it was jealousy. Yet others would assume applying the principle of not idolizing humans ahead of God—as God cannot be likened to anything of this world.
Nevertheless, most people can attest to having been invalidated or having observed another person, being invalidated, through the categorization of personalities. Ordinary humans carry opinions in favor of, or against other fellow humans, based on inaccurate experiences.
When Jesus declared: “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” He implied reality in creating opinions, based on known backgrounds of the referred personalities. What Jesus said was not law, but a phenomenal manifestation, based on unacceptable behavior of humanity (Matthew 13:58).
The phenomenon of idolizing humans comes from the idea of categorizing humans, according to observable conducts and experiences. If God is rejected, He gets rejected on that point alone. People claim to love God and they like being associated with those said to be God-loving. But humans cannot sufficiently know God, who cannot be likened to anything physical.
The only datum, possessed by humans, describing God’s nature is in humanity’s Godly image. Logically, this implies that humans should be given the convivial adoration, as carrying the likeness of God. Through Adam’s sin, all humans currently portray the opposite of God’s image. Even our Master, Jesus, in His human form, carried the opposite of God’s image.
“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. ……The young man saith unto him, all these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, if thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:16-23) (KJV).
What Jesus said, was purely on the principle of avoiding idolatry, from where all sins stem. What the rich young man did not know was that God’s likeness was in his fellow men. Sadly, his reason for walking away on Jesus, was clouded in not believing that the poor people carried God’s image. The advice to dispose of his wealth, for the benefit of the poor, could not make sense to him.
The rich young man’s opinion was based on own assumption of what God’s image implied. But whatever his opinion—it was the opposite of God—who is not likened to any form of physical humanity. This is regardless of the fact that the young man desired God’s Kingdom, like most of us.
The significance of this Scripture seems, all along, hidden to the Theologians of our time. This is just as Jesus had also refused to be called Good Master (Matthew 19:17). Clearly, nothing else shatters the idea of Trinity, regardless of Jesus having said: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father?” (John 14:9).
Nothing is peculiar in what Jesus said—which was obvious—considering that all humans were created in God’s image. Although physical and enmeshed in sinful conditions, humans were created in God’s image. Only Jesus, as the light of the world, came to reveal the nature of being God’s image (Hebrews 1:3).
As bearing our sinful image, Jesus refused being called good Master (Matthew 19:17). But Jesus still advised the young man, of what God’s image implied. God’s infallible Law guides those sincerely desiring to be in God’s Kingdom. That Law directs them to be aware that it is impossible to love God, before loving your fellow men (1 John 4:20).
The sad thing about the doctrine of Trinity is that it gives feelings of acceptance before God. Yet, just like the rich young man—such Trinitarians would be empty and naked before God. Only when appreciating that God does not categorize humans, can one worship God successfully. Those used by God in Christianity, like Jesus, cannot crave being worshiped.
The example of loving one’s fellow men is just as was displayed by Jesus. (1 John 3:16). The only way of avoiding idolatry is by appreciating that there is nothing good found in humans, just as Jesus indicated. Although God is capable of using such sinful humans to communicate His word.
The duty of humanity in this life is to analyze every word, brought by any human—whether dishonorable or not. When communicating with Pilate, Jesus said: “Everyone on the side of truth hears my voice” (John 18:37). God’s voice had been with the dishonorable Jesus, throughout the duration of His sojourn on earth.
Only those on the side of truth could hear His voice. The only reason why a few are on the side of truth is that the majority violate the First Commandment of the Bible, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). It takes only those worshiping the one and true God, to be on the side of truth.
The Pharisees assumed that they had the Law at their disposal. But they could not accurately understand the simple logic in that God could not be likened to anything of the physical universe. One of the accusations against Jesus was that Jesus equated Himself with God, by calling Himself Son of God:
“But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, ‘I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his robes and said, ‘He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy’” (Matthew 26:63-65) (ESV).
The only trickiest challenge faced by those on the side of truth is that one is damned when keeping quiet. Condemned when telling lies and yet also damned when boldly speaking the truth. Jesus would have been a liar, had He avoided telling the truth that He was God’s Son. It is true that humanity lost their intimate Son-ship relationship with their Father.
But that does not take away the fact that humanity had originally comprised God’s children, before condemnation at the Garden of Eden. Jesus came to restore the relationship of humanity as God’s Children. Hence Jesus became the only begotten Son of God. This development was as true as the certainty of the rising sun tomorrow. Scriptures were at the disposal of those Pharisaic Jews, for them to verify and confirm this reality.
The only reason why they could not stomach Jesus being the Christ was that Jesus did not match their idea of how the Christ ought to have looked like. Their humanly crafted imagination of how the Messiah was supposed to look like, was in direct contradiction with the First Commandment. Bear in mind that it takes only those on the side of truth, to know the truth.
When fumbling in the darkness of lies, one takes the truth to be falsehood, while falsehood would be taken as truth. But that confusion results from worshiping other gods, rather than worshiping the true God. Physical humans, in their current state, cannot match what God’s image implies. God cannot be likened to what is physical. Adulating a fellow human is as good as worshiping another god, yet a fellow human was also created in God’s image.
What we currently see, of physical humanity is not God’s image, necessarily. But, any person carries the God’s image that cannot be seen physically. This is the basis on which Christ said His Church would be built—being a matter of truth, as contrasted with falsehood (Matthew 16:18). God can use anyone to communicate His truth. Yet the physical personality being used deserves no adulation.
For instance, Moses was used by God, but Moses ought not to have been idolized. Similarly, Samuel was one of God’s greatest prophets, but Samuel did not deserve idolization. It is, therefore, imperative for those on the side of truth to know how to appreciate God’s voice, without idolizing those used as human instruments.
The caliber of the person used is immaterial, when applying the first Commandment—making it easier to isolate falsehood. God is not physical, as to be likened to anything. By demanding to be granted a king, like other nations, the Israelites rejected God (1 Samuel 8:7). The human tendency has always been to adulate physical humans—sustained in human categorization.
The only problem with human categorization is focusing on physical aspects—thereby failing to appreciate that virtuous things come from God. This is why Jesus corrected the rich young man who sought to impress, by calling Him “Good Master!” (Matthew 19:17). Instead of portraying God’s goodness in their lives, humanity lost it, through Adam, at the Garden of Eden. However, Jesus came to redirect the lost humanity.
The mistake of humanity has always been associated with the tradition of categorizing fellow humans. Most people have a tendency to be upset when a despised person comes up with highly educational information. Imagine them, doing this, even, to Jesus—the author of Christianity? (Matthew 13:53-58). Yet, the same people turn a blind eye, when their adulated heroes behave dishonorably.
The Israelites could not perceive Samuel’s wrongness, in appointing his two sons as judges—without God’s specific instructions. God’s word is what needs honor, not human instruments. God’s truth can be disseminated by anyone, whom God chooses to use. Humans are equal—but expected to be each other’s keepers. If one performs anything honorably, God deserves honor—although the person’s integrity may be questionable.
One would certainly need encouragement to continue doing well—but without usurping God’s honor. Nevertheless, if the same person behaves dishonorably, he/she needs to be graciously corrected. It is unnecessary to crudely despise those behaving foolishly. As humans, we collectively need redemption. That is the only valid way of honoring and worshiping God in this world. In God’s Kingdom humans are equal (Matthew 23:8-12).
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 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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