Among three simple questions, one helps an enquirer discover the true identity of an individual: “Who are you?”“What are you?” And “why were you born?” Without asking the right question, any personality test can be deficient in vital information about a person’s identity. The curriculum vitae or resume of an individual is often limited to the first two, leaving the last inadequately answered.
The first question, “Who are you?” intends to establish the person’s identity, in terms of his ancestral origin. It gives an enquirer information about what to expect from that person, based on the cultural norms of his people. But, this includes geographical surrounding conditions of the person’s upbringing, his religion and anything estimated to have a bearing, in his life.
The second question, “What are you?” intends to establish the person’s abilities, considered valuable. For instance, if a driver, the information tells the enquirer that one can be entrusted with driving motor vehicles. But the enquirer would also want to know for how long he has been driving and which class of vehicle driven. This includes details about accidents committed during that time if any.
For employment purposes, the first two questions, structured with adequate details, are considered sufficient for employment selection. This is intended to avoid engaging criminals, who would then do the opposite of what would be expected of the employee. The major limitation of the two questions, though, is the possibility of falsified information.
In a desperate desire to be employed, a person could hide vital information that could scuttle his chance for employment. He could falsely give a number of years of driving experience. His criminal record could also be falsely projected as clean. The third question is not commonly asked, by the interviewers.
However, that question is more vital than the first two questions. The person’s ancestral origin, his upbringing, and cultural norms cannot describe his/her being. After hearing about Jesus’ fame one of the men who later became Jesus’ disciple, remarked: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”(John 1:46).
According to the viewpoint of humanity, Nathaniel was right. The background of an individual is part of his curriculum vitae. However, a person can be wrongly rejected for a particular activity, yet be most suitable. This is just as a person can be a driver by profession but having been born to be a medical Doctor. The person might help some people, as a gifted healer, but unrecognized.
The curriculum vitae, presented to the employer would have been inaccurate. The person would have been born to be a medical doctor, but not a driver. He couldn’t be accepted into the School of medicine, due to his poor educational background. In his desperation to survive, the person would have picked up driving as his profession.
This means a medical doctor, would have become employed as a driver. Although helpful to some people, the person born to be a medical doctor has no time to practice medicine. But, as also unrecognized in the medical profession, the person might be prohibited from engaging in unorthodox medical practices. However, when answering the question: “Why were you born?” the person employed as a driver attests to being a medical doctor, rather than a driver.
Jesus never wasted time, engaging in activities unrelated to why He was born. His geographical place of origin did not matter. He also did not need the certification to practice what He was born to be. At one stage there was some hullabaloo when He healed a blind man, on the Sabbath day (John 9:1-41). Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). This, basically, means there is safety in following His example.
The result of Jesus’ profession, as the Messiah, was publicly witnessed. The Pharisees attempted to discredit that reality but in vain. The tradition that they had all along held as true, was immaterial. The most important thing was the result, confirming Jesus’ Messiah-ship.
A person born to be a medical doctor ought to be confirmed by results, and not necessarily by qualification papers. One may dangle a glamorous engineering certificate as proof of engineering qualification. But the question that remains would be: Was he born to be an engineer? The only desirable proof would be to show the bridge that he built.
The effect of results remains the only tangible proof that describes the personality of any individual. Otherwise, this world is full of people practising what they were not born to be, and therefore, being fallacious in whatever they claim to be. Being of any racial or geographical background, or holding some fanciful certificate, does not necessarily describe the person’s true identity.
True education ought to help discover the reason why the person was born. If born to be a cleaner, that person would be a professional cleaner. If born to be a tea brewer, that person would make any person test the tea, that he/she has never tested before. A person born to be a driver enjoys his driving profession and is relied upon by his employers.
The wrong thing has always been to make the person less important than a doctor, for instance. Comparing the two is like comparing apples to bananas. There is no comparison between the two fruits, as producing different nutritional flavours. One may desperately need bananas today, but be in need of apples tomorrow.
Similarly, if I desperately need to move my property to Johannesburg, I would be silly to look for a medical doctor. I look for a qualified driver who would safely transport my luggage to the designated destination. Jesus said if anyone has faith as little as a mustard seed, nothing would be impossible.
Faith is derived from unseen things, like what the person was born to be. What a person was born to be cannot be known by other people, but by the person him/herself. Another definition of faith could come from the discovery of one’s identity.
With a true identity, the person knows that he/she knows. He does not rely on what other people say about him. He portrays the reality of his/her own identity. Having lived like us on earth, Jesus was also confronted by people misrepresenting his identity.
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 above passage shows a classical example of wrong descriptions of people’s personal identities. Associating Jesus with other characters did not make him be those characters. Jesus was exactly what God intended Him to be. He was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Discovering oneself in that manner, one cannot behave according to the whims of humanity. The person executes what God created him to be.
Jesus was born to be Christ. What were you born to be? Each person was born to be whatever God wanted of him/her. The false identity held by anyone ought to be discarded. The person may be holding the credentials of being a driver when he was, actually, born to be a medical doctor or vice versa. The answer to the question: “Why were you born?” reveals the secret.
Each person seen around was born to be whatever God wanted him/her to be. The idea of envying another person’s identity was never designed by God. That is why one of the Ten Commandments specifically declares against coveting. Each person is supposed to stand by what he/she was created to be. The consideration of gender does not come to it, because God’s image is not, necessarily gender-based.
Generally, in this world people are either denounced or embraced, depending on the answer to two questions: “Who are you?” And “what are you?” In any person’s endeavour to be accepted, the response would always be crafted according to the expected answers. If the questioner intends to give the interviewee a job as a driver, the tendency would be to, accordingly, give the right answers.
This is how this world operates. One doesn’t necessarily have to show results, but papers, signifying designation. The specific reason for the Jewish failure to appreciate Jesus’ Messiah-ship was not necessarily a lack of results. The results were there for them to be convinced. But His credentials could not meet with the questions: “Who are you” and “what are you”
Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here”(Matthew 12:38-41 NIV).
Of all the miracles performed by Jesus, which were not accepted by the Jews, none was greater than the resurrection. Interestingly, even the resurrection could not help open their eyes. They still sought to discredit Jesus, disregarding the clear evidence of His resurrection. What other proof did they want to see? They had to bribe the guards to utter lies about the resurrection of Jesus.
When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble”(Matthew 28:12-14 NIV).
Isn’t it amazing that people can choose to project lies than stand up for the truth? This is a serious matter. The fact that we still have Jews unbelieving of the existence of Jesus, is testimony to that lie. In the statutes of their laws, lying is not acceptable to God. So whose interest were they preserving, by corrupting the guards, in order to sustain falsehoods?
The Jews are commended for maintaining God’s Laws and the Prophetic recordings. But these are the same people, caught doing such shameful things. This testifies to the truth that one should never limit his search for knowledge to those viewed as closer to God. Holding the Bible and reading it every day, does not make one truthful, necessarily.
About ten years ago, I approached some Church leaders that I had looked to, as credible, in terms of Biblical truths. I was totally dismayed when they frankly gave me the impression that I was wasting time writing. A smaller percentage of them promised to review my material. Only to later tell me that they did not have time, to get into details.
It is only recently that I have come to appreciate that the problem was not necessarily the content of my material. They were clouded by the two questions, relating to my identity. “Who are you?” And “what are you?” My background, relating to where I came from, could not satisfy them. Let alone the fact that I held no college education.
It would have been a different story if they sought to describe the reason why I was born. The answer to that question would have enlightened them to appreciate the existence of God. They would then not perceive Andrew Masuku as the author, but, rather, acknowledge the voice of God.
That depends on whether they would choose to remain stubborn, like the Jews, or they would choose to see things in God’s light. There remains no guarantee that the truth reaches most people. However, it is possible that truth may reach the few that God would intend them to heed.
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