The title of being ‘Christian,’ qualifies one to carry three attributes of Jesus. Without these, it is futile for anyone to assume being Christian. Under normal circumstances, this revelation could transform Christianity upside-down. But certainly, very few can be willing to renounce comfort.
The only problem with truth is that it brings discomfort (Matthew 19:16-20). We have to first clear the misconception about Trinity, which gives Jesus the position of not being one of us. Thereby, making His recommendations un-achievable to ordinary human beings.
It is true that Jesus was God with us. But it is also true that in Christians, God ought to be with humanity. The only mission of Jesus that cannot be attributable to humanity is Him being the Christ, or the Messiah. The Messianic role of Jesus cannot be shared with anyone of this world.
But Jesus is the second Adam who came to reverse the enslaving system, established at the Garden of Eden. Jesus represents what ought to be adopted as normal, even though viewed as abnormal by people who are accustomed to what prevails.
The role of Jesus was, basically, to reveal God’s will to humanity. Jesus came from another place, to reveal God’s will to humanity. Previously, God communicated with humanity, through the Law and the Prophets. However, this type of communication ended, after Jesus came:
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void” (Luke 16-17) (ESV).
The significance of this passage of Scripture, ought to encourage Christians to adopt the attributes of Jesus, as qualifying Christian practice. The Old Testament activities, as manifested in the chosen nation of Israel, ended with John the Baptist. See [The Authority of Jesus].
The preaching of the good news of the Kingdom of God, started with Jesus. But Jesus indicated that some people would force their way into it. The reason why people try to force their way into God’s Kingdom, is because God’s Kingdom is likable to humanity. I suppose, even when Adam and Eve had decided to disobey God, they still desired to be associated with God’s Kingdom.
“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—’ therefore the Lord God sent him out from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:22-24) (ESV).
Apparently, the reason why God blocked Adam and Eve from accessing the tree of life, was their passionate desire to access eternity. But, having chosen the wrong tree, living forever, would have been disastrous for them and the entire creation. The way of Satan would have remained with humanity for eternity.
Obviously, the immediate question that comes from any sceptic is: Why did God not immediately reverse the sin of Adam to avoid further confusion befalling humanity, up to the time of Jesus? The answer lies in the riddle of knowing that a human being was created in God’s image.
God’s image in humanity is not intended to be robotic. That image is to be in character and form. Character implies God’s righteousness and wisdom. While form implies God’s immortality and invisibility. Both character and form, are the qualities that could be obtained by choice, just as the sinful attributes were attainable by choice.
The man died, immediately, after taking the wrong fruit (Genesis 2:17). Death, in this context, implies separation from the original source. Being aware of God’s Laws, Satan assumed having succeeded in thwarting God’s plan for humanity. But, God had another provision—being a process, necessary to reverse God’s pronouncement of death penalty.
God’s Laws cannot be randomly violated, without consequences. This is just as the law of combustion ensures burning, when necessary properties are in combination. God’s creation follows patterns, as regulated according to God’s design.
Death befell humanity, after eating the wrong tree. God’s righteousness remains immutable, for all eternity. The pronouncement of death to humanity could not be evaded. Otherwise, God would have told a lie—which is not possible—considering God’s infallible character.
However, Love is another of Godly attributes—also inseparable with Him. God did not prevent Adam from sinning, because Love demands looking at the interests of another person, more than self. Also, character development required Adam to choose—than being commanded not to sin. See [Principle is superior to rules and regulations].
Adam made a wrong choice—succumbing to the schemes of the devil. But God had a provision to redeem the fallen man. This is like a King—having pronounced death sentence to His son—but later deciding to pay the penalty himself—because of His love for the son.
The king removes His robes of honour and wears the humiliation—on behalf of his sinful son. He then suffers the bruising effect of death—fulfilling the demands of the penalty. That would, therefore, qualify the restoration of his son to the royal family.
God Himself cannot be consumed in death, because He is the Creator and the Law-giver. But He had to play the game of redeeming humanity, without invalidating the instituted Law. This, God achieved by providing Himself, through the Son given to humanity (Isaiah 9:6).
How can God give Himself, in the form of a Son, without losing His authority of being the one sustaining the universe? This is where the typical Gnostics assume that God is three in one. It is, itself, foolish for a created being—to even ask that type of question. See [Simplified analysis to eradicate Trinitarian confusion].
While, through His word God reveals many things to us, there are still many other things left unrevealed. What is important is to know that “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16) (ESV).
The Son referred to, projects Himself as our brother who bore our sins on the cross. He declared that He came to serve, and not to be served. He instructed His disciples—including us today—to behave like Him, in carrying out the mission bestowed on them:
“……..You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28) (ESV).
Jesus—referred to, as the Son of Man—comes into being, when projecting Himself as one of us—so that we can look to Him for salvation. We all died in Adam. But Jesus has now come—instructing us to look to Him, in order to recover what we lost, due to our sin, through Adam.
The death pronounced to Adam is gone, through Jesus. The only problem—since Jesus’ death—is inability to appreciate Jesus’ saving mission. This is like trying to save people entrapped in enemy trenches. While on a mission to save those people, the friendly forces can be vulnerable to being attacked by the captives themselves.
Due to lack of accurate information, the captives may viciously attack those friendly forces—mistaking them for enemy forces. Their captors would have supplied propaganda information—to convince their captives of being safe in the hands of the captors.
Even though viciously attacked by the captives, the friendly forces would obviously avoid fighting back. Because the friendly forces would fully understand the behaviour of the captives, even though the captives would be caught up in confusion.
In our example, the Commander of the friendly forces fully paid the price of death—so that it is not necessary to continue spilling the blood of the captives. The friendly forces understand that their behaviour is due to falsified information, as received from their captors.
I suppose, this clarifying the three attributes of Jesus, as expected to qualify Christian activities? Christians are like friendly forces, on a mission, as highlighted on the above example. The rescue operation can never be easy. It calls for all the nine attributes of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Those enlisted on the rescue mission are clearly given specific instructions—violation of which can be treated as treasonous (Matthew 18:5-6). The Son of Man is the Commander, whose army is designed not to cause casualties on those intended to be saved. Therefore, for those enlisted, careful compliance with instructions is paramount (Revelation 22:18-19).
Departing from the instructions of the Commander, leaves a person exposed (Matthew 22:1-14). However, serving in that army is as easy as appreciating that in Jesus there is safety—as long as committing everything to Him. Just as Paul alluded; it is no longer the person that lives, but Christ that lives (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus displayed unconditional Love. But Jesus was also not a pretender—seeking to please people. He did not categorize people according to class—where the righteous are favoured ahead of those hooked in sin. He loved sinners and the righteous ones—attending to the Jews and Gentiles, alike. He never exhibited being a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).
Basically, the mission of Jesus was to solve problems of humanity. This included, even providing wine to those in need (John 2:1-11). He also taught the principle of Love to whoever cared to listen. See [Jesus is the unifier of Christians and humanity].
Jesus’ followers were expected to behave like Him—or else they would be misrepresenting the principles that He introduced. The unconditional love includes treating enemies as if they would be friends (Matthew 5:43-48). The currently adopted mistake is assuming that doing the work of God is the effort of individuals.
Christianity is the principle of allowing Christ to do His will in one’s life (Matthew 6:10). This calls for discarding personal concerns, when submitting to the Spirit. From then on, all personal efforts are deemed unrighteous. See [Works bring the opposite of what is intended].
When He was here, Jesus never took an elevated position—as to be honoured and given the status of being worshiped. This is why He even refused to be called ‘good Master’ (Matthew 19:16-17) (KJV). He recognized Himself as Son of Man—living a life-style that His followers were expected to emulate. He neither owned properties, nor received remuneration from those whom He helped.
To emphasize the principle of humility, Jesus washed the dirty feet of His disciples. He instructed His disciples to adopt and maintain the principle of service, towards one another (John 13:12-15). While people recognized the good works of Jesus—His personality was not highly regarded. He was like everyone else in the community. A kiss had to be used to identify Him—when His killers sought to arrest the right person.
Jesus never instituted Church governance—as to require other people to be superior to others. Jesus works in individual Christians, as they allow Him to work in their lives—not, necessarily, only in the lives of those recommended according to human evaluations.
This is why Jesus insisted that His disciples were to treat each other as equals (Matthew 23:8-12). Being used by Jesus can, therefore, not be a privilege, as deserving higher status. One has to appreciate that, when Jesus was here, His life could not be regarded as rosy.
This implies that the life of the one used by Jesus can also not be expected to be rosy (John 15:20). This is just as those who run a marathon race are not winners until they have reached their destination. In prophesy, Jesus was accorded with a status of being a man of sorrows, with nothing admirable in His personality (Isaiah 53:3).
His brothers face similar challenges. Unfortunately, unlike Him, human beings are susceptible to failure. Prayer becomes imperative to keep true Christians focused, lest they fall back into sinfulness. See [Jesus the servant and Christ the Lord].
Jesus never proselytized on people to follow Him. There was no altar calls—people being encouraged to follow Jesus? He actually discouraged those who sought to commit themselves to follow Christ (Luke 14:25-33). Those determined to follow—when motivated by personal benefits—were mostly disappointed. This is why, one young man went away sad, after being told to go and sell everything to follow Christ (Matthew 19:16-22).
Jesus also declared that no-one could come to Him except drawn by His Father (John 6:44). Deliverance comes—only when appreciating the principle of altruism—as compared with self-centredness. Otherwise the person concerned would be focusing on gate-crushing, to be in God’s Kingdom (Luke 16:16-17). Even to His disciples, Jesus declared:
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another” (John 15:16-17) (ESV).
However, due to His unfailing love, Jesus provided us with a privilege to petition Him—so that our sincere requests could be considered (Matthew 7:7-11). God expects sincerity on those bringing requests to Him. He expects their requests to be truthful and in line with His mission.
However, taking advantage of Christianity and reaping benefits, thereof, would be common. The same was the case, when Jesus solved many problems of ordinary people. But those people could not necessarily be counted as His disciples. To most of those people, Jesus preached in parables, so that they could not understand (Mark 4:10-12).
Repentance, is a different story. There ought to be sincerity, when a person renounces everything to follow Christ. Being used by Christ, as one of His disciples, implies allowing Him to lead, as He wills:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18) (ESV).
The most important datum in Christianity is that the work of salvation has got nothing to do with the efforts of humanity. It is the work of Christ, from start to finish. It is a question of being careful to avoid deception, caused by self-centredness. This is why Jesus declared:
“………If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32) (ESV).
The only hindrance—being described as the sin of humanity—as causing people to remain outside Christianity—is pride. I suppose the young man who went away sad—after being instructed of what was required to attain eternal life, was pride. It is pride that, actually, drives people outside Christianity. See [The enemies of change are the proud people].
Christian practices without Jesus’ attributes are there, but such people are operating outside His mandate. The issue of deception is inevitable. But, as Jesus stated, only the truth—which those of truthful disposition fully understand—frees those concerned. Pretenders will always find the countenance of truth, too strong to withstand.
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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