“You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you. So I will destroy your mother—my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. ‘Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children’”(Hosea 4:5-6) (NIV).
The above Scripture is a game-changer. On rejecting knowledge, people perish. There is no human being who does not want to survive. But survival, solely, depends on appreciating the value of knowledge. Unfortunately, information comes from all angles, making access to truthful information problematic.
For the benefit of those sincerely desiring to make wise decisions, there are clear-cut methods of avoiding false data. In the world of misinformation, indeed, many people are entangled, due to ignorantly holding onto false data, assuming it to be true. Yet the safest way of sifting information has remained available, since the time of Adam.
Only a few lucky ones have remained unscathed, since the beginning of time. Yet the term luck invariably favors those willing to confront, at the expense of relaxation and temporary pleasures. The majority are the degraded people, always predictably affected by the maelstroms of the winds of confusion.
They find safety in the direction of the unpredictable airstreams. These are the people who avoid truthful people, rather than avoiding blatant deceivers. To those associated with foolishness, anything focusing on the direction of truth is viewed as dangerous, where safety in misrepresentation mesmerizes. This is undeniably true, as projected in our Zimbabwean scenario.
Let me illustrate how false information easily pervades the minds of the unsuspecting general public. Suppose three men give some testimony about the death of an individual, in some location. Each of the three witnesses would freely give their respective accounts of what they would attest to have observed.
Without any other mechanism, of verifying data, one assumes having to rely on what would be uttered by those claiming to have witnessed the incident. As expensive as authenticity can be understood to be, error finds its way through such typical information providers.
One may state having observed the person being murdered. The other asserting to the dead person having been involved in an accident. Yet the other stating that the person, actually, committed suicide. The receiver of such information may choose to authenticate, according to his own preferential judgment of the informants.
In a confused society, the listener may be influenced by his/her personal relationship with the informants. One might choose to believe on the basis of racial consideration. Or, believing what comes from one’s fellow black, if also black. The choice of information may also be influenced by religion, or gender consideration, etc.
Others might base their decisions on the power of the majority. Supposing more people agree with any of the three informants, that gives weight to what one then chooses to believe. The person judging easily becomes persuaded to believe, based on the strength of the majority. But, the truth remains invariably eternal, as not, necessarily, affected by such humanly erroneous judgments, as Biblically clarified.
The twelve men, sent to spy at Canaan, had the majority’s viewpoint opposed to the minority, later proven to be right (Numbers 14). Caleb and Joshua ought to have been listened to, ahead of the majority, as long as their statement aligned with the source.
Also, the Roman governor, Pilate, when he washed his hands, proved that the truth could not, necessarily, always come from the majority. Here was a representative of a gentile kingdom, who could not be understood by even those claiming to be God-fearing.
Truth has got nothing to do with the consideration of the influential background of the individual, or whether representing the majority. The truth remains to be what it is, as unchangeable by anything. Therefore to obtain truth, one should not necessarily base it on the credentials of other people or anything that is physical.
Truth can also be found among liars, for instance. One can, actually, deduce some truth from a blatant liar. This is not difficult, as long as remaining focused on appreciating that the source of truth is not associated with anything physical. Hence, the wise counsel of the apostle Paul remains succinctly workable:
“Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesies. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil”(1 Thessalonians 5:19-22) (KJV).
The aptness of this passage of Scripture lies in, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” All conditions of stupidity are, actually, associated with the inability to apply this piece of advice. Shall we now come back to what could have happened to a listener being given information by the three informants: One stating that he saw a murdered person. The other testifying of an accident, while the other asserting that the dead person, actually, committed suicide.
According to Paul, the listener would not simply dismiss any of those three informants, regardless of their background. Hence, “Proving all things.” The last portion of that Scripture neatly summarizes everything: “hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
This viewpoint comes from the axiomatic datum that in the physical universe, there is neither absolute rightness nor absolute wrongness. What is important is being careful of upholding those things that are good and avoiding what would be bad.
This brings us to the purpose of proving all things. Having received information from three different informants, one remains skeptical, until arriving at the source. Truth is only resident at the source. Evil is always represented in falsehood, regardless of the background of the person saying it, whether the person is akin to you, or not.
More of what is bad, characterized in falsehood, leads to death. Yet more of what is good, characterized in truth, ultimately leads to eternal life. The test of this can be observed in pain and pleasure. Everything that brings pain leads to death. When focusing on avoiding pain, the intention is to avoid death.
Therefore, there is apparent truth in that, anything leading to death is, systematically, wrong. While anything that leads to life is good. This comes from the principle that error causes the dreaded pain; so that one can be as right as focusing on avoiding pain. Accidents on the highway are caused by erroneous driving. Safety on the highway is accordingly sustained by careful driving. The principle appears as applicable to all aspects of life.
However, the simplicity of avoiding pain does not necessarily always mean that the attainment of eternal life is possible by avoiding pain. Falsehood is also sustained in what appears as right when the opposite would be true. Falsehood always promises more than it can provide.
Those falling into some deception would have assumed achieving better things, than what eventually transpires. A beautiful girl, duped into believing falsehood by a charming boyfriend, ends up in a miserable condition. The girl becomes unhappy, thereafter, as having become associated with treachery.
The future misery of that unfortunate girl might be captured in her having to sustain life in single-motherhood. Instead of learning from the experiences of others, it is amazing that most young women continue to become victims of such treacheries. Not many normal women could have intended to lead lives in single-motherhood.
But the error of judgment by such naïve women is what leads them into such conditions. The bottom line, as associated with such errors, is in failure to always consider the source, when making decisions. All knowledge and truth are sustained in the source. The wise counsel is in that anything else, needs careful analysis.
While many get captured in the idea that it is possible to make wise decisions after prayer, unfortunately, this is not always true. A totally atheistic individual can, actually, make wiser decisions, when compared to prayerful people. Jesus, actually, alluded to this, when conversing with one of the Jewish lawyers, concerning the Good Samaritan—not driven by prayer or religious niceties. (Luke 10:25-37).
While there cannot be anything like absolute rightness in this universe, the more right one can be the more survival he attains. But the more wrong one can be, the more prone to death one would be. All this does not negate that Jesus set the standard, by which people ought to look at and apply.
But a human being is basically as good as he was created in God’s image. The shadows that darken his life are a result of making wrong decisions, more than those shadows are accidental. The Biblical narrative, in the story of Adam and Eve at the Garden of Eden, actually, reveals how humanity has been captured, ever since.
The deceptive information is awash. How then, can an ordinary person be able to access truthful information? The starting point is in knowing that true information comes from the original source, but can be conveyed by anyone, regardless of background. The first conveyor of true knowledge, Jesus, disturbed the common beliefs and got killed.
“When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. ‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him” (Mark 6:2-3) (NIV).
Those taking offense at Jesus were, certainly, not different from those in our current environment. As far as they were concerned, knowledge ought to have come from highly echeloned individuals. The background of Jesus did not match that standard. Yet no-one could stand up against the knowledge that was exuded by Jesus.
Unashamedly, we have universities, seminaries, and colleges, conferring degrees in theology, expecting to be highly honored, accordingly. Such phenomena have got no precedence, as true knowledge comes from the source. Nothing has changed the fact that knowledge comes from the source, without necessarily, considering the conveyancer’s background. Only the wise are able to deduce truth from error.
It is the idea of elevating personalities that stupefies humanities, since the time of Adam. Instead of taking true knowledge from the source, ordinary humans assume that true knowledge comes from highly echeloned individuals. True knowledge is deliberately rejected, on the basis of the debased consideration of the informants.
Nevertheless, there cannot be a debased personality, when considering that all humans are basically good, as created in God’s image. It takes only the wise to appreciate what comes from the source, without necessarily considering the background of the informant. Apparently, the genetic entity of Jesus left this planet. But the beingness of Jesus remains on this planet.
“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:5-7) (NIV).
Truthful information remains true, regardless of who says it. However, to the unwise, truthful information cannot come from the despised individuals. Ordinary people could not know, let alone identify with Jesus. But the same applies to most people in our time. There is no doubt that many people claim to know Jesus through other personalities, rather than through their own experiences.
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
“Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah” (Matthew 16:13-20) (NIV).
The mystery, pertaining to the only source of knowledge is enigmatic to many, yet as plain, as can be understood by the wise. It is the consideration of personalities that causes people to switch-off and be stupefied. God’s servants are all over the world, but cannot be accessed by those, strictly attached to personalities.
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. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99