Human beings were not designed for this world. Having been created in God’s image, humans were created to govern, but not to conform to worldly patterns. The challenge for humanity emanates from not knowing the spiritual identity. Just by establishing the true identity one begins to behave differently. Ordinary people conform to having their identities described by others.
This world is sustained by structural identities. Safety is found in whatever group the person belongs to. Even criminals, draw their safety under some structural identity. The so-called drug lords exist through some leadership structures. Their operations may exist in secretive activities, but they exist structurally.
This world demands belonging to some structural grouping, for purposes of survival. In Africa, most people are traditionally organized according to clans, tribes or communal villages. A physical human being feels comfortable and secure, as long as belonging to some group, even without justifiable reason.
When claiming to belong to some nationality, one would be reflecting the ignorance of his identity. My surname identifies me, but my identity has got nothing to do with my surname. The greatest discovery one could have is of knowing being God’s child, as to be alienated from those of this world.
The discovery of one’s identity is the greatest breakthrough ever revealed in this world. However, such a discovery throws an individual out of communication with his compatriots. The tendency is to agree with one’s compatriots, rather than with Jesus. This is where courage and tenacity are needed most.
“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:15-19 NIV).
The one believing that Jesus is the Son of God ought to also believe, himself, also being God’s child. One is freed from the troubles of this world, even though still associated with the troubles of this world. Like Jesus, the person may be killed, although having been freed from physical turmoil.
After one discovers being God’s child, he finds it unnecessary to continue living in a physical body, which is prison-hood to humanity. When aware of having been created in God’s image, the person no longer craves physical existence. That person realizes being freer out of the physical body, than in the physical body.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far: but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body”(Philippians 1:21-24 NIV).
Paul desired to depart from the physical body and be with Christ. This should be the wish of every Christian believer. The value of a Christian believer is that of helping others to discover the gigantic mysteries of God’s Kingdom. But living in the physical body is also necessary for purposes of one’s own spiritual growth.
The relational challenges provide a marvellous experience in the province of love. God’s enemies are humans who, otherwise, are God’s children. Those who are alive, physically, having become God’s children, can be of greatest service to God.
A Christian’s physical body carries no other purpose, except to serve others. Using that physical body, a believer ceases to entertain personal concerns. God’s children think like God. There is no difference between God’s children and Jesus Christ, who expects those following Him to behave like Him.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”(Matthew 20:25-28 NIV).
As long as the above Scripture does not appeal to believers, those believers would be untruthful. God’s children lose sleep, desiring to serve at all times, but not seeking to be rewarded. True believers are loved by many people, because of their unbridled service. But they are also hated by many, for being God’s children.
“Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:13-16 NIV).
The areas of service are unlimited. But God’s children serve according to their individual convictions. They love and provide for the needs of others, not by fulfilling the requirements of the Law but by obtaining pleasure in serving others. There is no other purpose for which a believer lives in this world. The apostle John reiterated that there cannot be any substitute for service provisions.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”(1 John 3:17-19).
Apparently, the experiences accumulated by believers in this life will be of greater use in God’s Kingdom. The parable of the talents shows that one’s services in this world serve as a preparation for greater service in God’s Kingdom.
“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you’. His master replied, ‘you wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?
“Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance, Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him”(Matthew 25:27-29).
The talent holder, in this scenario, shows a person, assuming that God is impressed only by showering praises to Him. The above parable shows that service is of utmost importance, ahead of just praising God. The most important aspect has to do with how a person serves others, more than being served.
There is also significance in allowing others to serve, as also providing others with opportunities to appreciate the service principle. But, what one does, after having been served, displays the worth in physical existence. Hence, John suggested laying down our lives for others, as Jesus laid down His for us (1 John 3:16).
Christianity is more about what one gives to his fellows, more than receiving from them. The greatest opportunity for service can be found in granting others the privilege of eternal life. The most important value that God looks at is the facilitation of other people to access eternal life.
However, cautionary measures need to be taken, when practising the principle of service. Jesus revealed the aspect of service towards God, which is opposed to inviting praises towards self. All praises, accumulated in this world, serve to nullify the actual significance, preserved in God’s Kingdom.
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then you Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”(Matthew 6:1-4 NIV).
The value of gratitude from beneficiaries is often directed to benefactors, rather than to God, who may be cursorily mentioned, in passing. But the beneficiaries are often known to excellently idolize the benefactors. While appreciated, those idolizing benefactors, ahead of God, cannot be categorized as God’s children.
God’s intention is not, necessarily, to provide material blessings, but to lead people into God’s Kingdom. An effective servant of God leads his followers to Christ, rather than to himself. Hence, among denominational Christian believers would be found multitudes of false worshippers.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’(Matthew 7:21-23 NIV).
Ordinary humans are used to giving praises to others and being also appreciated for their own acts of kindness. But the behaviour is different for God’s children, focusing on God’s will. This is why James suggested giving to widows, and the fatherless, who would be unable to recompense for the gifts they receive.
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. The religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”(James 1:27 NIV).
Pollution refers to praises received, by those doing well to others, from the generality of humanity. The more one is praised for kindly acts, the more it becomes impossible for him to be rewarded by God. He becomes the focus, rather than God becoming the focus.
The life of a Christian believer is serving God, as directed by God Himself. That makes it the only reason that Jesus said a Christian ought to rejoice, only when ridiculed or persecuted by ordinary people. It becomes impossible to serve God, when being showered with praises, by others, at the same time.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you”(Matthew 5:10-12 NIV).
God’s Kingdom is for the meek and not the proud. When a person is glorified by others, he may indeed, view himself as greater than those praising him. The so-called “Men of God” are popular, but are only as temporary as this world is temporary. Those receiving human praises, emanating from their sterling services, have got nothing to do with God.
Therefore, one is misinformed when assuming that Christianity implies material blessings. Christianity has got nothing to do with material blessing, but focusing on serving fellow humanity, without necessarily receiving appreciation from them. In other words, the best way one could be of service is by allowing God to do His will, in one’s life.
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