Jesus brought freedom, the definition of which is self-determination. However, due to being accustomed to slavery, many people assume freedom as committing oneself with some other authority. Freedom, therefore, becomes associated with the opposite of self-determinism. Jesus highlighted the condition of freedom, right at the foundation of His ministry.
“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day, he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’” (Luke 4:16-21) (NIV).
A freed slave cannot easily understand the meaning of freedom. This highlights the reasons for the Israelites having to spend forty years in the wilderness. They were unable to appreciate the meaning of freedom. Sadly, Zimbabweans have, also, had to languish in slavery in the last forty years, although having been granted independence in 1980.
The challenge is portrayed in failure to appreciate that freedom allows a person to even choose what is harmful to him/herself. Forcing a person to choose life, when preferring death would, itself, be a negation of freedom. But, it is important to also appreciate that a person may choose death, solely, out of ignorance.
Clearly, there cannot be any possibility of freedom without knowledge. This is just as freedom implies the attainment of life, which everyone yearns for. Therefore, freedom is synonymous with life, unobtainable in ignorance. Regrettably, people seek knowledge, via some other source, rather than directly from the original source.
The inability to acquire knowledge from the source is caused by survival under slavery. Jesus declared Himself as being the way the truth and the life. But, due to misunderstanding, many people remain ignorant. Like, the Israelites (1 Samuel 8:1-10), they prefer another person to lead them, rather than God leading them.
Tradition has blinded ordinary people to assume that it is necessary to have someone superintending over their Christian activities. This is notwithstanding that Jesus, actually, clarified the fact that all Christians ought to regard each other as brethren, under Christ (Matthew 23:8-12). Tradition, itself, is slavery. A person cannot be free, as long as still committed to survive under the auspices of some tradition—a trap that haunted the Israelites.
However, in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, Paul, actually, took time to illustrate the workability of Christianity. Apparently, no-one should claim to be superior to others, within the structure of God’s Church. Paul, particularly, reiterated how imprudent it can be for anyone to assume being more important than others.
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3) (NIV).
This was after Paul had given instruction for the Roman Christians to be transformed, for the renewal of their minds. Transformation is the opposite of conforming. Paul’s instruction was affirming to the rightful Spiritual act of worship. There is no ambiguity, in what Paul said, for those sincere in obeying God.
To the wise, the starting point is in establishing one’s own identity. Having established one’s identity, it becomes impossible to then be susceptible to deception. Right at that point, the person begins to behave differently, as no longer listening to falsehood, anymore. This happens to be what portrays the foundation of God’s true Church:
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).
In this Scripture, Jesus reveals the true foundation of the Church of the living God. Under some different church groupings, this Scriptures has been abused, where the focus becomes the term “Church of God.” There is more to Christianity than just identifying oneself as belonging to the “Church of God.”
Peter had identified Jesus as the Son of the living God. With that identity, Jesus responded by promising Peter that He would establish His Church. Obviously, this implies that those belonging to that Church would be sons of the living God. Like Jesus, they would not take instructions from human beings. They would be free indeed.
Of course, they would be persecuted. Those of this world would assume that such people would not be free. God’s children would be like Jesus, who was observed as not having been free when considering the implications of the cross. Similarly, His followers would be free; but would be persecuted, like Jesus (Matthew 5:10-12).
Deception comes about when one prefers listening to secondhand information, rather than taking information directly from the source. All truth comes from the source. This does not mean that it is not possible to obtain the truth from various other informants. The responsibility is vested upon the individual receiving that information.
This requires the ability to scrutinize. Like the Bereans (Acts 17:11), a person of truthful disposition checks, to ascertain whether what is said would be true or false. The Holy Bible is available for checking. But the Holy Spirit, principally directs those having discovered their true identity, according to Matthew 16:13-20.
Outlined here below, are twelve characteristics that make God’s children distinguishable from those of this world. Such people are not necessarily driven by conventional knowledge. They honestly appreciate their ignorance, but at the same time, holding, without shame or doubt, that which they know to be true.
While they could easily access knowledge, like everyone else, it is their character that distinguishes them from ordinary people. Many other manifestations could distinguish such people. But the under-listed twelve can be included among those other manifest-able attributes:
They never withdraw their allegiance to the group that they belong to. Of course, they may be known to have moved from one group to another, before conversion. But everything changed, immediately, after discovering their identity, as God’s children. It is common for others to dissociate with them, due to disagreements on what binds fellowship. The example was set by Jesus, who never dissociated with the Jews, who later killed Him, for disagreeing with their traditions.
They never disparage themselves, as to minimize their strength or power. Like Jesus, they speak with conviction, what they understand to be true, regardless of possible threats and harassment by those of authoritarian viewpoint. They never doubt the fact that they would be God’s children.
They never compromise with their own reality. There is a clear distinction between what they know and things unknown. God’s children are never found in between the known and unknowable. They apply what they know with conviction, and are detached from what is unknown—although unafraid of venturing into the unknown territories.
They speak in specific terms, on matters of truth, rather than generalities. They are neither respecters of personalities, nor inclined to be obsessed with diplomatic considerations.
They consider their integrity as more important than their physical bodies. Like Jesus, they are prepared to die for what they know to be true, rather than be found to compromise on matters of integrity (Matthew 10:39).
They can never need praise, approval, or sympathy. Ordinary people might feel sorry for them, due to their unwillingness to compromise, when besieged with crude treatment by those in authoritarian circles.
They never desire to be liked or admired. They are content with doing the right things at all times, regardless of being ridiculed and treated scornfully.
They consider themselves to be their own advisers—keeping their own counsel and selecting their own decisions. They can be considered as queer, in the eyes of ordinary people. As not, necessarily, embracing everything from those of the authoritarian echelons. They go by what appeals to their intellectual reflections, per their divine relationship with their Father in Heaven.
They never regret yesterday, as to be constantly worried about things improperly done in the past. To them, life is in them today, enabling them to shape their tomorrow. They do so, according to what they consider to be reasonably applicable and appropriate. They remain the happiest people, the world has ever known, regardless of the existent bad conditions exerted upon them
They never desert their comrades in need, in danger, or in trouble. These are rare characters, who could be comfortably trusted in this world of distrust. This is why it is impossible for them to withdraw their allegiance to the groups to which they belong. They can be hated by their comrades for not conforming, but it is impossible for them to desert those comrades in times of their needs.
Such people are true to their own goals, as they are known to eventually accomplish those goals, regardless of acerbic opposition. Such goals would be associated more with the betterment of humanity. Their goals are certain to come to pass, regardless of stiff opposition against them.
They never pretend to be what they are not, for purposes of expediency. Yet they never seek to defend themselves against justifiable accusations, when proven. They are quick to acknowledge and accept responsibility when found to be wrong.