God desires having a relational bond with humanity. All problems of humanity are a result of humanity’s failure to confront the aspect of reconciling with God. When Jesus gave His disciples the instruction on how to pray, He was showing the exact route towards being at one with God. That devotional rendition is different from how humanity prefer to deliver their petitions to God:
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’” (Matthew 6:7-13) (ESV).
This rendition is commonly referred to as, “The Lord’s Prayer.” Such inference is accompanied with stoical piety—to show reverence to Jesus? Unfortunately, God sees the deeds, not just the expression of piety. Truth remains affixed in that humanity prefer dissociation with Jesus—yet desiring to serve God.
The devotional rendition that Jesus provided is more of a guideline, than it needs to be repeated verbatim. Any human being would do well when internalizing this prayer, as it opens the gateway to one’s relationship with God. The prayer is a perpetual devotional commitment to relate with God. There are so many things that separate humanity from God.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelations 3:20-22) (ESV).
Everything amounts to the question of trust. Our major problem lies in inability to separate between what is physical and what is spiritual—hence the assumption of God not being always present. Yet God is ever present, but humanity is not always present—through illnesses, death, betrayal, etc.
What is physically observed or touched cannot always be present. This includes money and other objects used to qualify the status symbol. Even our trusted spouses cannot always be present. Our Church pastor is not always present. Our Children or parents cannot always be present. But God is ever present for humanity.
In our materialistic world the things of value are always material—more than the valuable things should always be spiritual. The enemy of humanity is not, necessarily Satan—being spiritual. The enmity of humanity is derived from physical things. Our inability to understand and deal with physical things is exactly the cause of our separation with God.
The physical things were created by God, but, unlike God, the created things cannot hold value that is eternal. As God is Spiritual and we are physical, the only way we can relate to God is projected in how we handle physical things. The physical things need to handled, only as God desires them to be handled in a particular way.
But more-so, being a question of how we relate with our fellow humans—as able to communicate with them—through human language. This is because humans were created in God’s image. We can employ all other physical things in terms of how we relate to our fellow humans.
If owning a vehicle, how is it of service to one’s fellow humans? If owning a big house, how is it of service to others? If having several properties, how does it benefit others? If having lots of money, how is it of service to fellow men? If having talent in some field of knowledge, how is that being used for the service of fellow men? The list is inexhaustible, as long as the person remains alive.
And it does not matter whether something can be considered significant or insignificant in terms of value. This is why Jesus praised a widow—giving all she had—among the wealthy people. Her giving was considered more significant than the rest.
Jesus intended to highlight the importance of attitude—associated with giving. Attitude is spiritual—rather than physical. The things we possess—regardless of whether talent, physical possessions or physical life, itself—are from God. Therefore, God expects humans to serve, using those possessions, having been granted to humans by Him.
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:10-13) (ESV).
It appears as if it is impossible for humanity to have an easy relationship with their creator? Although humanity was created in God’s image? We have to find out, exactly what it is that separates humanity from their Creator. This is not difficult, when examining one’s attitude, against what a person is privileged to have.
Relating with God has now become as easy as Jesus served to remove the obstacle. It is now possible for those willing to follow Christ and be able to access the eternal life (John 3:16-17). This does not need educational background. It also does not consider the person’s class or cultural background.
The sin of humanity revolves around self-consciousness and desire to be respected—ego. Jesus reiterated the fact that God—as our Father—is more concerned about humans than humans are concerned about themselves. If God is truly the Father of humanity, why can’t people talk to him freely, without limitations?
What is it that erodes humanity’s confidence, when talking to God, through Jesus, on a daily basis? Apparently, the only thing that makes talking to God unproblematic—as revealed by Jesus—is humility (Matthew 5:3). The misdirection has always been the assumption that Satan is solely responsible for opposing God.
Jesus revealed that money, actually, competes with God. Satan only comes in, as providing the spirit that causes a person to serve money, ahead of God. For instance, what is it that motivates a person to work hard? Is it serving God or making much money for self? This is the distinction that Jesus highlighted as necessary to be clearly delineated (Luke 16:13).
According to what Paul said—in his letter to Timothy—the false gospel is projected in acquisition of money and wealth. Humanity’s relationship with God is prevented by the false gospel—implying advancing what a physical person itches for.
Most dedicated Christians, actually, focus on accumulating wealth—assuming it to be proof of God’s blessings. It is true that everything materialistic comes from God, who created everything. But the terrible mistake lies in idolizing those things ahead of the Creator Himself.
“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain” (1 Timothy 6:3-5) (NIV).
Paul is referring to those boasting about the material possessions, when comparing themselves to those without. Such people despise poor people—who they consider as not godly enough, like them. Most people falsely suppose that wealth describes the value of Christianity.
But the things of true value, have got nothing to do with material things. As mentioned earlier, the material things cannot always be present—including physical humans. This is unlike the spiritual things that are eternally present. It is a question of distinguishing the matters of principle, against what is material.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:6-10) (NIV).
Paul is advocating for the ability to qualitatively answer the following questions:
“If I have a car, how is it of service to others? If I have a big house, how is it of service to my fellow men? If I have several properties, how are they of service to others? If I have lots of money, how is it of service to the poor people and to God? If I have talent in some field of knowledge, how is that being used for the service of my fellow men?”
Paul is not justifying laziness or inability to think in terms of production. But what one does with whatever the person is blessed with. A human being wants to be seen driving a beautiful car. That appears as ordinarily commendable. But how is that beautiful car of service to God and other fellow humans? The red light reflects, when ego is the driving motive. Ego should be regarded as embracing the only sin that caused Jesus to die on the cross (John 1:29).
True Christianity is summed up in appreciating what Jesus instructed His disciples to uphold (Matthew 6:25-34). Amazingly, on attempting to bring this discussion with a fellow Christian, recently, I was told off—as one advancing inapplicable Christian principles. The person decided not to further entertain my presence in his house, or further hear anything from me.
I had all along, considered the man to be a dedicated fellow Christian. I had no problem with him giving me an indication that I was preaching heresy—even when using the Bible that he held. Apparently, the inability to confront the considered heretical people—like me—has always been the malady of Christianity. I expected him to engage me, rather than denounce me.
In my view, a heretical person needs to be confronted, in order to help him to address whatever would be wrong about his position. But I suppose, Paul revealed what heresy entails? (1 Timothy 6:3-10) Therefore, those speaking louder, against the considered heretics, may, actually, be heretics, themselves.
Truly, one cannot be critical of another person without carrying the same label, as leveled against the criticized person (Matthew 7:1-4). This is what makes Christianity a challenging expedition. Christianity should be regarded as sacrifice—enabling one to carry other people’s burdens—like Jesus (1 John 3:16).
But, it all depends on the cross that one is spiritually allocated with, by God Himself. Each individual Christian carries a responsibility, according to God’s prerogative. Christianity does not necessarily require assimilating with what others have gone through. When praying, asking for God’s will to be done, the person allows God to do God’s will, in his/her own life (John 21:19-22).
God communicates to us, using people from diverse backgrounds and circumstances. However, in egotistical behavior, some people are readily listened to—as others are despised. The categorization of such people, comes from egotistical behavior—as assuming others to be better than the despised. But God says it is impossible to love God, if unable to love the person next to you:
“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21) (ESV).
The apostle Paul, actually, tried to address this problem with the Corinthians. Those Christians had become divided along factional lines. There had been those strongly supporting Apollos, while others still preferred remaining with the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 1:10-10 & 1 Corinthians 3:3-10).
The challenge facing Christians is inability to know that any other fellow human being carries God’s image. That person needs to be served, just as though serving God Almighty. Helping that person out of confusion is another impeccable service to God Almighty. Just as listening can be another way of serving God—possibly talking through the despised person.
Our relational bond with God is dependent upon the relational bond with fellow men. It is better to harm one’s ego—by serving the considered most despicable people. Rather than to serve one’s ego—harming one’s potential to become God’s Child. God is ever willing to receive us as His children—when willing to come out of the clutch of sinfulness—enhanced by the terrible sin of ego.
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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