Fanaticism suggests that whatever is regarded as truth makes one right, assuming that everyone else would be wrong. At the time of Jesus, there were Zealots, secretly committing murders, against those considered to be enemies of the Jews. Currently, we have the Al-Qadir groupings, having been known for terrorist activities, in the name of their religion. But even in Christianity, there are fringes of fanatics, claiming the monopoly of truth, when focusing on their denominational leader.
The separation of the Israelites, where God instructed that nation to live differently, there was no suggestion of fanaticism. This was later clarified by Jesus, who can never be regarded as having been a religious fanatic. The cause of fanaticism is opposed to altruism, characterized in Jesus. The problem with fanaticism is being condemnatory, rather than redemptory.
Sadly, what makes life on earth meaningful appears as being what causes fanaticism. For instance, sport is sustained by fanaticism. Football is cherished by most people, based on fanatical supporters, the world over. It would be impossible for football to gain popularity, without fanatics. The same applies to any other sport, considered admirable.
The root cause of racism, as also reduced to tribalism, is fanaticism. A degraded human being considers his/her race or tribe, as superior to others. These are factors that point at another person being different. It is impossible to extend love towards a person you regard as different from you, regardless of whichever sector one may be looking at fanaticism. There is no love in fanaticism, except possible idolatry.
The origins of fanaticism can be traced back to Cain. The only reason Cain killed his brother can be linked to fanaticism. He saw himself as different from his brother, Abel. Hence when asked about what had happened to Abel, the answer was him not being the keeper of his brother. We cherish the what belong to us, more than those things belonging to others. That is the only disturbing underlying philosophy of humanity.
The origin of this behavior is not from God. But if God does not subscribe to it why did he allow it, in the first place? Although appearing as if God allowed it, fanaticism has got no basis in Godliness. The misunderstanding appears to be on God selecting Israel, ahead of other nations. However, the chosen nation of Israel was not for the purposes of fanaticism.
The nation of Israel had been expected to be a model for Godliness. The history of the Israelites portrays a nation that failed to meet that standard, uncommon with human behavior. This brings us to the reason why Jesus had to come. In Jesus lies the hope of humanity. It is impossible to reject the teachings of Jesus, without rejecting one’s only hope of survival.
Fanaticism is a form of commitment to one’s own case, without considering that the person’s own case portrays other people’s cases. Fanaticism gives the feeling of loyalty and security. But it takes away the reason for which a person was created. When aware of having been created in God’s image, fanaticism cannot be sustainable. The individual becomes pan-determined, just as God is pan-determined.
It strikes one when imagining how God considers several prayers from divergent groupings; each requiring God to handle their respective petitions, ahead of rivals. In a war situation, rival groups fervently pray, requesting God’s favor. How is God expected to answer those dichotomous petitions? Regardless of how committed to Christianity, those groups miss the mark.
God is not a respecter of personalities or groupings. (Acts 10:34-35). The veracity of this can be understood from the prayer model, recommended by Jesus. Although not taken seriously by our modern Christianity, the prayer model portrays the significance of God’s mind.
There is no fanaticism in that prayer model. It was designed for those poised to become God’s children. In their hypocritical stance, those purporting to be Christians prefer calling it the “Lord’s Prayer”. This is notwithstanding that Jesus explicitly stated that those intending to follow Him should adopt it as their own model for praying to God.
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:7-15 NIV).
I suppose the most difficult thing is for fanatics to ever forgive those not subscribing to their conditions. To them, loving and forgiving refers to those within their enclave. They are opposed to the principles of Christianity, to which they appear as expressing loyalty.
Jesus taught the principle of unconditional love, but the fanatics subscribe to conditional love. One of God’s prophets, Jonah, attempted suicide, due to his failure to understand God’s principle of love. The Lord’s prophet had been overwhelmed by fanaticism, rather than God’s principle of love.
But, to Jonah, this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:1-4 NIV)
Of course, Jonah did not have any right to be angry over what God had done. He had not been different from anyone having been the subject of creation. His complaint appears as having been misplaced, except possibly having been a result of fanaticism.
When in prayer, one states that God’s will, should be done on earth as it is in heaven. This requires the petitioner to appreciate that God’s will cannot be achievable by a person focusing on his own will. The purpose of prayer is to ensure God’s mind aligns with one’s mind.
One cannot be a Christian when thinking differently from how God thinks. Therefore, fanaticism ought to be viewed as a curse against humanity. The only reason why it should be viewed as a curse is that it is least suspected by those desiring to please God.
As long as viewing another fellow human being as different from oneself, regardless of nationality, one portrays the symptoms of fanaticism. There is no Godliness in fanaticism. The purpose of living on this planet is not for personal indulgence, but for what one does for fellow humans.
Christianity was originally designed for that purpose. Jesus was a proponent of Good News, derived from unconditional love. He was killed, specifically for advancing that philosophy. The early disciples were also killed for advancing the same philosophy.
I hasten to say such a teaching cannot be saleable to those of this world. Its rejection is not surprising when considering the reasons for which Jesus was killed. Fanaticism is buoyed by individual successes in the sphere of the human race. Fanaticism can only be overcome by the idea that another man’s survival is the cause of one’s own survival.
The troubles inflicted on other people are not different from troubles inflicted on self. It is unnecessary for people to continue on the trajectory of self-destruction after the epitome of human survival was established on the cross. How far wrong can the human race be?
The iniquitous vice, encompassing fanaticism is the excessiveness, turning out to be irrational, rather than reasonable. Anything unbalanced, when allowed to take place, is irrational. Everything in the physical universe requires balance.
When excessively straining oneself against what one can bear, the person may succumb to death. On the other hand, when one spends too much time doing nothing, he also faces death. Balance is necessary for anyone to remain alive in the physical world.
Alcohol is loved by many people but can be extremely dangerous, as long as consumed excessively. This applies similarly to fanaticism. It implies the inability to control oneself. A normal human being is one who is able to control himself and his environment.
Therefore, fanaticism is associated with what can be considered abnormal. Just like any other problematic condition in this world, fanaticism is encompassed among the works of sinful nature. This is as was exhorted by the apostle Paul, to the Galatians:
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21 NIV).
Anything that a person loves more than He loves God is idolatrous. As long as pursuing God’s Kingdom, fanaticism would be a stumbling block. This is all to do with the mindset of an individual. It is impossible to love God when absorbed in fanaticism of any nature.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NIV).
This was the fundamental Law given to the Israelites. It is impossible for one to be associated with fanaticism when abiding by this Scripture. If the Jews, at Jerusalem had adopted the above Scripture, with its Spiritual intent, it would have been impossible for them to kill Jesus.
The only fanaticism that any person could safely indulge in is Jesus Christ. A person may not be educated enough to understand the details of Christianity. But one is safe, as long as indulging in Jesus, the Bread of Life.
“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still, you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:35-37 NIV).
There is no falsehood in what Jesus said. It is impossible for anyone gripped in fanaticism to remain in that condition. As the bread of life, Jesus means that every word He uttered ought to be taken as food. Those indulging in Jesus are the safest of all people surviving in this world.
While observable that denominationalism has usurped the glory of Jesus, denominational fanatics appear blind to this reality. Their fanaticism is conferred on their respective denominational leaders. As fanatics of their denominational leaders, it is impossible for them to be committed to Jesus.
If Jesus cannot be compared to anything, how come we have people swearing by the so-called men of God in this world? Nothing else is worth conferring fanaticism, except Jesus. This is demonstrated by everything that Jesus taught, as recorded in the four gospel books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Indulging in Jesus, as our bread of life, leads to the Holy Spirit.
Surviving in this world bears no significance, as long as not associated with the only guide towards eternal life. Only those who doubt that Jesus is the Christ, commit themselves to other figures, rather than Jesus. Those surviving on that Bread of Life, do not waste time, eulogizing human leaders. They survive on the only true hope of eternal life, Jesus.
If in love of idolatry, one is safe committing that idolatrous thinking on Jesus, whose promises are as certain as the rising sun tomorrow. Those committing themselves to Him, without any shadow of a doubt, cannot be betrayed in the manner that others are betrayed in this world.
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.
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