It is impossible to help a person who thinks he does not need help. I know of no other stressing situation than trying to help a relative who suffers from mental illness. He tends to view those with the best intentions to help him, with suspicion. The more one tries to help him, the more suspicious he becomes. I suppose this may be the same Challenge God faces with humanity.
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”(2 Peter 3:8-9 NIV).
Peter is addressing those who find God’s promises delaying. Certainly, this world needs deliverance, as a matter of urgency. Without understanding the mercies of God, as insinuated by Peter, the delay in establishing God’s Kingdom can be very frustrating. But God loves even the worst sinners.
This is why God delights in the death of His saints rather than the death of sinners. When a sinner continues in his sinful condition, God remains hopeful that he may come to his rightful senses. However, when a saint dies, God rejoices, implying the deliverance of that saint.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants”(Psalms 116:15 NIV).
This sounds juxtaposed with human expectations. People mourn the death of good people, wishing they lived longer, in this life. However, God delights in their departure from this physical life. Ironically, God preserves the wicked people, hoping that they might turn from evil.
“In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness and the wicked living long in their wickedness”(Ecclesiastes 7:15 NIV).
This seems as if contravening God’s instruction to the Israelites, who were expected to live righteously, in order to live longer. The Israelites were a special group, promised physical blessings, on the condition of their obedience to God’s commandments. Those physical blessings were as temporary as everything in this world is temporary. But, ultimately, God is interested in the spiritual rather than the physical person.
“This is what the wicked are like—always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies” (Psalm 73:12-20 NIV).
In his unfailing mercies, God allows wicked people to live longer, hoping they might turn to God and be redeemed. Indeed, there are cases when wicked people eventually turn to God. In some cases, those wicked people eventually become even better than those considered righteous. This is how slippery this life can be, where a person can fall when assuming to stand.
“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12 NIV).
The possibility of slipping should be regarded as the most terrible thing to be experienced by anyone. No wonder why God rejoices at the death of His saints. The cleanest mind is remaining informed of having nothing to value in this life. Everything treasured in this life comes to an end.
One may have attained mindboggling achievements, and be iconically recognized. However, as long as belonging to this world, all such achievements count for nothing. I know of great professors who died without anything to show, except their laminated scholastic certificates.
One can pity our liberation fighters, having been reduced to a laughing stock. The experience of fighting in bushes, and escaping terrible hazardous conditions in war trenches is hard to imagine. Those people had a dream for a better Zimbabwe, rather than what prevails.
The majority have died in worse conditions than they were in, before joining the armed struggle. Those from Midlands and Matabeleland, actually, could not believe having to witness the slaughter of the people they genuinely sought to liberate.
What other worse condition can anyone expect, on matters of considering valuable things in this world? The endemic question remains for all eternity: What was the actual reason for engaging in that senseless war? This reveals the complications of human deliverance.
One can be zealous for things leading to his demise while assuming to be heading towards survival. The Zimbabwean youths assume that the prevailing conditions are better than before independence. Through propaganda, they are convinced of current conditions being the best.
The business of delivering humanity has got nothing to do with physical effort. The passion displayed by charismatic preachers can give an impression that God’s work is being done. But how different is that, compared to the charisma displayed by the liberation war fighters?
We should not forget that even those on the opposite side would be displaying similar charisma. It is a question of whether agreeable or not agreeable with what the person stands for. A person assumes to be on the winning side, according to his agreeable standpoint.
But how different is that, from Simon Peter’s standoff with Jesus? Peter was zealous, to the extent of annoying Jesus, rather than impressing Him. The landmark question is whether God requires zeal, in doing His work, or not.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it”(Matthew 16:21-25 NIV).
Simon Peter’s behaviour displayed heroism on the Lord’s side. How then did that attract Jesus’ rebuttal? Consider, also the redemption of that criminal at the cross with Jesus. That criminal had not done anything to deserve deliverance, except admit being a sinner.
A preacher can be as charismatic as attracting a huge following, but that is not what guarantees deliverance. Of essence is to appreciate what Jesus said, concerning matters of deliverance. The person might be used by Christ and achieve highly effective results, but all that does not guarantee a place of honour at Jesus’ coming.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23 NIV).
What, then, is the price of deliverance? Jesus also gave a parable showing a condition where hired servants are not rewarded according to expectations, (Matthew 20:1-16). Jesus emphasized this point by reiterating that the first shall be last, while the last shall be first.
All this sounds quite discouraging when considering the human viewpoint. What should one then do, in order to be approved, as to receive a worthwhile reward, at Christ’s second coming? Our Father is a God of justice, so nothing can be done without considering good work.
Are Christians expected to be more good than bad, in their execution of assigned duties? Is it about remaining loyal to a Church organization, until death? How about the consideration of ethics, when compared to corrupt people in the environment? Can humans be justified for deliverance?
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14 NIV).
What unveils from these Scriptures is only the abounding grace. The only price of deliverance is to reduce oneself to nothing. Although appearing as the most difficult thing to do, humility is the only condition that is required of a Christian. There is no need to regard the work done, except to reduce oneself to nothing.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”(2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NIV).
Paul says he delights in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, and in difficulties. This is in agreement with what Jesus said in one of His lectures, as covered during the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:10-12.). A Christian rejoices, only under the most difficult conditions.
This is not exciting stuff, but revealing the price of being a follower of Jesus Christ. Many people get discouraged, even though in need of God’s Kingdom. What affected the young man who had been asked to surrender his wealth to poor people, can affect anyone in this world. The syrupy messages, packaged as would provide physical deliverance, from those viral pastors, would be fraudulent.
“Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples”(Luke 14:25-33 NIV).
When comparing what has all along been advanced by Christianity, the scam is exposed, being the root of all our problems. The price of deliverance cannot be as popular as has always been projected. A person cannot be a Christian without surrendering one’s own life. Until this is corrected, Christian problems, enjoined to our national conundrums, remain without any hope of improvement.
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