The most popular faith, especially to those from poor conditions, is Christianity. Without even taking the trouble to find out what Christianity entails, most people just plunge into it, without examining the pros and cons. Coupled with dubious prophets and evangelists, Christianity is generally a haven for the uninformed.
Many people spend most of their lives worshipping what they do not even know. Following Christ has always been popular. Jesus was thronged by multitudes, attracted by His ability to heal the sick. However, such following did not mean spiritual deliverance to those excited by His miracles.
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:25-33 NIV).
Jesus shows that it was never His idea that there should be popular followers behind Him. Failure to heed what He said in these lines, is a terrible mistake for the unsuspecting people.
There is nothing popular with denial of one’s parents and even one’s own life. We have to dig deeper to find out what Jesus meant. Failure to do so is more dangerous than the disavowal of His existence. The price of Christianity is not different from committing suicide.
Apparently, the large crowds, mentioned as following Jesus, sought the alleviation of their problems. Virtually, what Jesus said was the opposite of their desires. Physical life needs food, clothing, and shelter, among many other necessities.
The unsuspecting followers could not understand what Jesus meant. The same is true of those keenly following Christ, in our time. Healing people of their physical infirmities had nothing to do with spiritual infirmities.
The purpose of Jesus is to address spiritual infirmities. Nothing is as dangerous as mistaking spiritual infirmities for physical infirmities. The two are opposed to each other. Consequently, when chasing after the concerns of the physical nature, one loses out on spiritual provisions.
When Jesus healed the sick, He did not necessarily require the healed to follow Him. His was, simply, a gesture of love, towards those facing life’s challenges. Those people decided to follow Jesus, simply, for purposes of handling their physical challenges.
When going after spiritual provisions, one has to be prepared to surrender all physical provisions. One cannot benefit both ways. This is what Jesus meant by the aspect of denying oneself when desiring to follow Him.
Spiritual salvation removes physical dependency. Hence Jesus told His disciples that if they had faith as little as a mustard seed, nothing would be impossible. That person ceases to be of this world, even though existing in this world. He obtains the power that is unlimited.
It is therefore in the area of abuse of that power that makes Christianity most dangerous. In His love, God prevents ordinary people from accessing spiritual freedom, before making the commitment to surrender everything of this world. This is why He preached in parables:
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand”(Matthew 13:10-14 NIV).
What would possibly disturb many people is that those having committed heinous crimes are better than those peddling in Christianity, without thoughtfulness. Those involved in Gukurahundi heinous crimes stand a better chance than those foolishly peddling in Christianity.
Why did Jesus speak in parables? Without giving it careful thought, some people assume that Jesus sought to consult the understanding of ordinary people. Yet others would assume that Jesus was practicing favoritism, not desiring ordinary people to understand.
This was not favoritism. Jesus did not want ordinary people to understand, as He wanted to protect them. Their concern was for this physical life, more than eternal life. Those focusing on physical survival cannot understand the things of eternity.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”(Matthew 11:21-24 NIV)
The Sodomites were probably considered the worst sinners, as mentioned by Jesus. He indicates that those having been in contact with Him, and yet failing to comprehend, would be worse off. This is where the grave danger, associated with Christianity, lies.
There is nothing wrong with benefitting from the services of Jesus, without committing oneself to follow Him. Jesus never attached conditions on those benefitting from His healing services. The beneficiaries were simply instructed to go and sin no more. But that did not imply being associated with His followers.
Hence, Jesus issued a warning against those following Him (Luke 14:25-33). Becoming a follower of Jesus requires surrendering everything, associated with this world. Including one’s own life. Those caught up in the habit of mourning the dead should include, in their mourning programs, Christ’s followers.
True followers of Jesus have crossed the boundary of living in this world, into eternity. What attracts those of this world, does not attract them. Like Jesus, they are peculiar, and very unpopular, in most cases, just as Paul described them as being of a new creation.
“So from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”(2 Corinthians 5:16-21 NIV).
Again Paul describes the Ephesian church as in the same category as Christ, who was killed on the cross. All this shows that such people comprise those whom Jesus insisted were to be identified as His brothers. They are clearly revealed as being different from those identified as hospitable (Matthew 25:40).
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:19-21 NIV).
True brothers of Jesus cannot be associated with this world. They are not scared of death, just as Jesus and His disciples were not scared of death. Before His ascension to Heaven, His disciples were as ordinary as all humans are ordinary. It was only after His ascension that the Holy Spirit empowered them to behave differently. They could not behave similarly to how they had behaved before Jesus’s ascension.
The wickedness of this world is manifested by focusing on eating and drinking. It is all about this life, even though knowing that death will come, someday. A true Christian is not worried much about the wicked people, committing all evil crimes in this world. The Christian worry is in doing God’s will when submitting to God without restrain.
Currently, Christianity is a very comfortable religion, except for those that preach the truth. The only reason that preachers of truth are hated is that they antagonize false preachers, in their comfort zones. Such comfortable religionists were warned by Jesus:
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come”(Matthew 12:30-32 (NIV).
The only difference, making Christianity more deadly than other dishonorable sins, is easy to understand. Sinners in this world live only for a short while. Whereas those blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, as hinted by Jesus, would have forfeited their potential for eternal life. This is a very serious matter.
A physical person lives, only to die and be forgotten about. He may cause havoc among other people. But there comes a time that he would be no more. Yet, a Christian is God’s child, as having received the gift of the Holy Spirit. The danger lies in failing to apply the conditions of being God’s child.
This implies one committing himself to live differently from his previous life, only to later revert to sinfulness. This is possible when unable to make a distinction between Godly life and worldly life. This agrees with what Peter said of such people:
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”(2 Peter 20-22).
Jesus also hinted about this when talking to the Pharisees, who assumed being religious. Yet they failed on the aspect of distinguishing between the spirit and the physical. Nothing is more important than the ability to separate between the two. This is where failures in Christianity are attached. This threat was also emphatically reiterated in the Book of Hebrews:
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God”(Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV).
Grace is available to all humanity. It does not matter how serious one’s sin is, as long as not having received the Holy Spirit. The danger is where one jumps into Christianity, without first counting the costs, as stated in Luke 14:25-33. There is more to Christianity than the popular following, as known in Christianity.
The most painful thing is that most Christians find it inconvenient to evaluate data. Most of those dead Christian organizations take comfort in dogma, displaying arrogance. It is only the humble, who are willing to examine everything, according to Paul’s advice: “Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil”(1 Thessalonians 5:21 NIV).
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