Age and personal identity

An adult is not what he used to be when young. But those things that one used to do when young can have a bearing on a person’s behaviour, as an adult. Childish things are supposed to be forgotten about after one grows into adulthood. It would probably be a condition of psychosis, where one remains in a childish mode when grown up.

The most exciting times for any human being are those from ages twelve to fifteen. I suppose young boys could be considered most mischievous when compared to young girls. Boys desire to experiment with many things, but mostly out of mischief. Those things which adults prohibit young boys from doing are what those boys desire to venture into, most of the time.

I remember conspiring with a friend at age twelve, herding cattle, out in the woodlands. Imagine, tying a reef knot using the tail ends of two bullocks, and letting them run off like that. Those were some of the mischievous games, possibly, unimaginable to grown adults.

Youthful mischief lingers in memory, but such activities ought to be discarded, considered as belonging to youthful times. There were countless other silly activities that could have even led us to death, during those formative years. I suppose it can only be by God’s grace that young people in that age group escape such dangers.

That period embraces the phase when most young people experiment with drugs. Adult mischief is commonly a carryover from those youthful activities. There is little that adults can do to protect young people at that stage. The only advice, perhaps, to prevent juvenile delinquency, at that stage, is to keep those youngsters productively occupied with some chores.

The majority of misdemeanours that are committed by adults are a carryover from such youthful activities. Young people do not understand the lustful desires of sinful nature, thereby being unable to easily control them. The Book of Proverbs highlights a principle, effectively addressing the causes of most sinfulness.

“In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls, but those who would preserve their life stay far from them. Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:5-6 NIV).

The journey of life is extremely hazardous. But when taking advantage of the above Scripture, a young man can be spared from such dangers. A child discovers being in a world of mischief and many other misdemeanours. That child is reared by parents who would also be victims of improper access to the desired information.

Anyone in this world can claim to grant true knowledge. Nevertheless, knowledge is not knowledge, unless coming from the original source. But what do we mean by original source? This refers to the origin of anything. Supposing you were travelling on a long trip to some destination and you notice that you have, somehow, gotten lost.

The only logical thing would be to go back to the point where you were not confused. However, if still unsure of where you got lost, the best thing would be to go to the beginning. A person can spend most of his time trying to fumble his way out of confusion. But that would not only be a waste of time but also complicate the confusion further.

A human being was created in God’s image. Everything that God created, including human beings was pronounced as very good (Genesis 1:31). At what point, then, did humans lose track? The following Chapter of the Book of Genesis narrates the story of Adam, revealing how sin entered.

These are figurative stories, but descriptive of how humanity is caught up in mysterious conditions of ignorance. This was through deception more than it was due to the inaccessibility of information. This is how a thing called human nature came to be associated with humanity. From that point, humanity was caught up in fumbling, bringing us to the story of Jesus.

Like the condition of the growth of a child, towards adulthood, a person having accessed God’s grace, through Jesus, faces similar obstacles. It is impossible for a born-again child of God, to suddenly become what the perfect child of God is expected to be. A conceived baby goes through a gestation period, leading to birth and child growth, before adulthood.

A good Christian is hungry for God’s knowledge, just like a healthy child, desperately needs food. A healthy child eats well, sleeps well and receives a good education, for an acceptable standard of living. Many children fail to make it into adulthood, due to a lack of food and knowledge deficiency.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:11-12 NIV).

The apostle Paul analogously uses youth’s developmental stages to clarify Christian development. There is never a time a Christian ceases to grow. Each person was created to be what God wanted that person to be. However, very few people connect with what they were born to be.

During childhood, one is provided with information, most of which appears good and yet deceptive. This is where drug dealing and other misinformation come to bombard the child. In his juvenile stage, the child gets exposed to the most dangerous activities, susceptible of causing him to fail to reach the stage of adulthood.

Most people desire to copy other people’s behavioural mannerisms, rather than be what God created them to be. This includes even our educational system, which tends to set standards according to other people’s achievements. This world classifies people according to race, cultural background and educational achievements that one could acquire.

A person is doomed to be useless, as long as not having reached a considered acceptable standard. This is what causes people to pretend to be other people. Even Christianity carries a particular behaviour that is expected of Christians. In order to be accepted, as a Christian, one speaks and behaves according to what would be expected of Christian approval.

Black people strive to speak English as well as the English people speak. That is what grants them acceptance among the white community. The ability to speak English well grants an impetus, where consideration of promotion would be concerned. This is, but some reasons that cause people to prefer to be what they would be not.

We live in a world of pretenders. Only Jesus could perceive through the musk of the Pharisees. There is no education that can be better than helping a person to be what he/she was created to be. It is not even necessary to work hard in order to be regarded as an achiever.

Any person is an achiever, as long as able to discover his/her true identity. The starting point is appreciating having been created in God’s image. Hence Jesus alluded to the fact that when appreciating that reality, there would be nothing impossible for that individual.

“By his power, God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in the body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:14-17 NIV).

What is resurrected from death is what was created in God’s image. It portrays the true identity of the individual. A Christian receives it, at the point of repentance after baptism. The person receives the Holy Spirit, to become the reality of what he/she was created to be. God’s image means God-kind.

The above Scripture shows that a person is at one with God, just as in marriage a man is at one with his wife. The reality of this shows how impossible it ought to be, to separate God from humanity, after receiving the Holy Spirit. This describes the reconciliation that comes after a man’s rebellion against God.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27 NIV).

This is a profound Scripture that theologians generally ignore. The simple reason is that they cannot want to be equated with despised people. The common belief, but being wrong, is that some people were created to be superior to others. But there is no truth in that viewpoint. All humans were created in God’s image, and deserve to be treated similarly.

This malady affects those who assume to be superior to others. This is just as it also affects those who assume to be inferior to others. Those manifesting this type of syndrome do not even realize that they would be making comparisons against God. The identity of each person is God, regardless of whatever his/her degraded condition.

The current behaviour of most people carries nothing to do with their true identity. Human identity is not physical. This was the purpose of Jesus coming into this world. His purpose was to lead us towards God’s identity. Having received the Holy Spirit in a physical state, one would be on a tough journey towards the actual state of one’s true identity.

God’s Spirit is not randomly granted to humans, without God’s involvement. Jesus said, no one could come to Him, except the Father who sent Him draws Him (John 6:44) But why doesn’t God just draw all humans to Himself? This brings us to a profound revelation.

God cannot draw a person to Himself, against that person’s own will. Consider the two criminals condemned at the cross with Jesus. How possible could Jesus have granted salvation to the one who mocked Him? “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39 NIV). Anyone can put him/herself in God’s position.

How could God consider the plight of such a Criminal, favourably? Would such a person be happy in God’s Kingdom? Certainly, the answer cannot be in the affirmative. Has anyone ever noticed how miserable a drunkard could be, when among Christians? That is a place that such a person can never want to be, let alone, for the rest of his eternity.

As long as living in this life, any person is granted the opportunity to choose between obeying God and disobeying God. Nothing is shown of what went on in the mind of Jesus when that mocking criminal expressed derision against God’s Kingdom. We have to dig from other Scriptures, to know what awaits such people.

“Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:7-8 NIV).

There is truth in that some people enjoy living sinful lives. But such conditions of luxurious living perish, just as physical lives were also designed to come to an end. This has got nothing to do with the joyous living the person would have experienced in this life. The person may have been considered a hero, for whatever acceptable achievement. However, all that does not count, without God’s approval.

As created in God’s image, the ultimate destiny for the entire humanity is the reunion with God, in whose image humanity was created. The alternative is the fiery lake of burning sulfur, according to what is promised in Revelation. The mockery of such possibilities can be fun. But this does not take away the fact that the person exists, because he/she was created.

The wrong thing has always been to assume that one just happened to exist, without a Supreme creator to enable his/her existence. That consideration is what caused that criminal to utter words of mockery. When analyzing God’s mercies, one can easily conclude that it is, actually, God’s mercy that such people’s lives should be terminated in that manner.

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.

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