Even though one may be uneducated, at least, God grants each individual the ability to evaluate. A normal person is able to choose what he considers correct, based on the provided survival information. There is nothing wrong with evaluating a piece of information, against another.
The courage to stand by what one believes to be true is virtuous, as descriptive of integrity. Ordinary humans take comfort in endorsing what the majority believes. Most of it is adopted without questioning its veracity. This portrays danger, highlighted by Jesus, during His renowned Sermon on the Mountainside.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:13-15 NIV).
The above Scripture is not necessarily suggesting that the majority opinion should always be discarded without evaluation. What is true should be adopted, based on the proper evaluation of information. The conclusion that something is safe should be based on facts, rather than the consideration of the majority.
Most people adopt information, based on its popularity with others. Jesus advises evaluation, before adoption, regardless of whether the majority agrees or not. The majority enforces the invalidation of individual opinions, regardless of the facts given.
Truth should be arrived at after evaluating the data of comparable magnitude—necessary before settling for correct information. An educated person chooses the truth after checking against the alternative data. Even the matter of believing in God should be based on alternative information. In other words, God’s opposite is Satan.
A truthful person is willing to examine the opposite information, being willing to listen to the critical information coming from the opposition. An untruthful person is defensive, treating opponents as enemies; whereas, a truthful person prefers listening to critics more than the supporters. He holds reasons for taking a stand, as opposed to dogma.
When settling for the truth, one would have adequately evaluated the supplied information, for him to be convinced. Understanding requires a scientific evaluation, rather than blindly taking it from another person’s viewpoint. It is about what one would have individually checked to become convinced of its workability.
There ought to be reasons for settling for what is considered true. Politicians are mostly untruthful. They would rather compromise their integrity, as long as expedient, for political survival. Governor Pilate was convinced that Jesus had no case to answer. But he had to submit to the vociferous Jewish crowd.
He had the power to either release or convict Jesus. The easiest way of manufacturing falsehood is to mix truth and lies. Jesus had declared having been born to be King, but without openly rebelling against the established authority. Governor Pilate attempted to release Jesus, based on his own truthful analysis.
However, the vociferous crowd had something to cling to. Jesus had declared having been born to be King, but not of this world. For the first time, the Jews threw some weight behind Caesar. They suggested that Governor Pilate would have displayed not being the friend of Caesar if refusing to prosecute Jesus.
Jesus’ statement had nothing to do with ruling authorities, but with God’s Kingdom, which is not of this world. However, His detractors twisted the statement to mean Jesus sought to topple the standing Roman government. Such fabricated information persuaded Governor Pilate to yield to the wishes of the Jewish community.
Pilate’s decision to hand over Jesus for crucifixion was not based on principle, but on what the environment expected of him. Even among the Jews, there may have been those not in agreement with crucifying Jesus. Probably, the majority did not agree but got persuaded by the common view of the leadership.
There would always be some room for thinking rationally, for humans, when approached individually. However, it seems the reasoning capacity weakens when the viewpoint of the majority is taken into consideration. Information is commonly accepted; when driven by one or two influential individuals with political interests.
This is what makes democracy questionable among the lowly developed countries. Loud mouths are always considered ahead of reasonable opinion. The most brilliant idea could be rejected, due to the poor profile of the mover. This world carries only a few objective thinkers whose ideas may be lost on account of insufficient platforms.
This necessitates extensive advertising, but also invites some debate, as to whether advertising is really necessary. When considering it from a viewpoint of the marketer, advertising could be necessary. The general public is often clouded with too much information, making it difficult to select what would be workable.
However, when looking at it from a consumer’s viewpoint, advertising may be unnecessary. An informed consumer takes the responsibility to verify the information before settling for a product. An informed buyer does not need to be sold to. He may buy the advertised product or find a better, but unadvertised product.
Independent investigation to find the right commodity is always advisable. Most people prefer adopting what would have been adopted by others, through trendsetters who may also not always be adequately informed of the commodity in question.
The preferred product would be considered according to trendsetters, or salesmanship. However, individual evaluation gives the latitude to evaluate, based on facts, using the data of comparable magnitude. Choices should be based on reason, rather than personalities.
Human beings prefer following recommendations, commonly based on personality profiles. The casual analysis suggests that choosing according to preferred personalities would be healthy.
However, the truth cannot be found in personalities, susceptible to change, but it is based on unchangeable divine quality. Anything truthful remains to be, as opposed to personalities, who may be here today, but no longer there tomorrow.
The tendency is to defend individual personalities, who may also trust those following him. However, following what is right is different from following personalities, who are susceptible to change. The apostle Paul attempted to educate the Corinthians on this principle.
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. Some of my brothers and sisters from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ’.
“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:10-17 NIV).
The apostle Paul intended to enlighten those Corinthian believers on the dangers of being stuck with personalities. The reason for favouring the personalities did not matter, except considering whether the content by any presenter agreed with Jesus or not.
The ability to evaluate information, rather than personalities, distinguished a person’s maturity. A Christian believer cannot be stuck with personalities, in his/her Christian endeavours. The common trend is to invalidate the minority, where either the majority or personality profiles are given credence.
The story of the Israelites is captured with reasons for their remaining outside the Promised Land for forty years. Their stable data had been the Ten Commandments. The pivotal Commandment had been that they ought to have had no other gods before their Lord. However, they easily got intimidated by the Canaanite giants, thereby, invalidating God’s Commandments.
The story is vividly captured in Numbers 14. The entire community concluded that God had sold them a dummy, concluding that the Promised Land had more obstacles than facilities. This was based on the report presented by the twelve spies that Moses had sent to Canaan.
Only two, out of the twelve spies, gave a positive report. Caleb and Joshua positively reported that the land had been as good as God had promised. The other ten spies agreed on the aspect of the land being good. But they reversed that with the consideration of the giants, stalking the Promised Land, appearing as indomitable.
The opinion of the majority was more convincing than that of the minority. However, the stable datum of the Israelites had been the Ten Commandments, rather than the opinion of the majority. God had miraculously led them out of Egypt, towards the Promised Land. They had miraculously crossed the Red sea, showing that God was undoubtedly greater than any other god.
However, their reasoning capacity deteriorated, after considering the intimidating giants, seen in Canaan. The report had come from the ten spies, considered intelligent. As common with humanity, the rest of the Israelites assumed wisdom in listening to the opinion of the majority. They forgot about the Ten Commandments, being their stable data.
The common reasoning was that Caleb and Joshua, were an inconvenience, as opposing what the majority supported. The first of the Ten Commandments insisted that they should have had no other gods, before their Lord. But they ignored the idea of applying the significance of those Commandments. They resolved to stone the two lads, with opposing views, instead.
God punished them. The entirety of those involved in the rebellion would not enter Canaan. God would not allow those with double standards to experience the beauty of the Promised Land. That story portrays the common behaviour of humanity, on matters of choosing between right and wrong.
The stable data is God. What does God say about the chosen path? When considering the views of the majority, democracy can be noble. But, for a believer, the most important question ought to be: What does God say about it? Any reasoning that is driven by fear is unGodly.
This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment: In this world, we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love”(1 John 4:17-18 NIV).
When settling for truthful information, one considers benefitting the greatest number of humanity. This is how Jesus decided to die as an individual. The principle is doing unto others as one desires the same. Anything that seeks to benefit oneself, at the expense of the majority, is, obviously, misguided.
That reasoning comes from a corruptible mind, which, to most people, may appear innocent. Some people may benefit from corruption, assuming God loves them, more than the rest of others. Regardless of how admired or pompous a person might be, corruption is evil.
What is true to one; comes from a candid evaluation of one’s conduct. The right thing should always be to consider one’s conduct, whether based on corruptible thinking or not. All human beings are basically good, as created in God’s image. Even the most corrupt character would know, at the bottom of his heart, that his conduct would not be right.
They can judge others, and yet fail to judge their own conduct. One’s failure to judge one’s conduct would be the inability to confront one’s identity. This comes from not knowing one’s origin. In other words, the most difficult thing for most people is to know themselves.
The spiritual ignorance of oneself is the only gigantic obstacle for humanity. The knowledge of oneself enables a person to overcome any obstacle along the way. This is what Jesus meant by stating that if having faith, as little as a mustard seed, nothing would be impossible. Everything else that may appear troublesome to an individual, becomes nothing to worry about.
Who are you? How are you? And why were you born? These are the fundamental questions for anyone to begin to know him/herself. The answers to these questions can be obtained from the individual, without necessarily considering the opinions of others.
If Jesus is the way, the life and the truth, it becomes necessary to copy Jesus’ behaviour. Jesus never sought other people’s opinions, to be convinced about His identity. He knew the purpose for which He existed because He was in communication with His Father.
The same applies to any person, as long as one appreciates one’s identity and the reason for one’s existence. This type of confronting, for purposes of knowing one’s identity, listening to that small voice, directly from one’s Creator, is vital. From that point, one can discover his true identity and why he/she exists.
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