While it cannot be denied that humanity is caught up in the most unpleasant conditions of life; the desperation is compounded by the inability to confront. Some people succumb to religion, having escaped from other vices like drugs. Inability to confront appears innocent for most people who even consider failure to confront as being positive submission to peacefulness.
However, the term ‘confront’, does not always denote combat. It simply means addressing the challenge in accordance with what needs to be corrected. For instance, the only way of confronting the problem of poverty is engaging in activities that eliminate poverty. The only way to do away with alcoholism is to attend to programs that are designed to address alcoholism.
If there is a problematic individual within the society, there is no need to despair. What may be necessary is to, simply, engage the person one on one. This may be difficult as the person may have been hardened, due to having not been similarly confronted in the past. But using the power of communication, the person confronting may discover that the wrong-doer would be the most likeable individual, willing to change from his/her wrong conduct.
A Samaritan woman who had been a diehard prostitute was confronted by Jesus at the well. This may have been viewed as inappropriate, for a man of Jesus’ standing; engaging a woman of that caliber in conversation? (John 4:7-30) But Jesus fully understood the principle of confronting.
The reputation of that woman could have caused Jesus to completely avoid her. But that could have been to condemn the woman to her sinful conduct, for the rest of her life. Jesus came to serve humanity, and therefore, always willing to engage such people in their own circumstances.
The plan of salvation for humanity is therefore another definite illustration of the application of the principle of confronting. The interesting observation is that the principle attends to causes more than it gets obsessed with effects. The obsession with effects is where the world wallows in failures, unable to progressively handle the undesirable problems in this world.
Christianity is organized according to denominations. Each denomination is bound by doctrines that identify with the beliefs of the leader. Any member of that denomination, who sees things differently, would therefore be treated as a renegade. Everyone is expected to conform to the authorities, who in this case would be the overall leader of that denomination.
Free thinking among members is not permissible. In pursuance of peace, pliable members would, accordingly, not question anything said by a ‘leader’. Failure to submit to the denominational authority is categorized as unchristian, as there are scriptures that are wrongly used to enforce that behavior.
History is well documented with Christian groupings having been misled by the founders to believe what would later be found to be doctrinal error. Some group members would have probably spotted the error, but unable to confront the man in authority. Obviously, this is the most common cause of the unending tribulations among Christian organizations.
This also, actually, makes it impossible for Christianity to ever address issues of disunity. If I could garner a sizable following under my church organization, I become a respected individual, even by those outside that organization. The reason for respect would be that I represent a big number of people.
There may, actually, be only one positive doctrine that attracted membership to the group, while the rest would be negative. Most negative things might be swept under the carpet, for the majority not to know of their existence.
Some members, within my organization, may spot areas that need to be addressed. But those members would fear being labeled as rebels. To them confronting the leadership would be viewed as unchristian. Instead, everyone would be seeking to seize any opportunity that would curry favor with the leadership, hoping to be also granted some leadership position?
A leader would therefore be carrying some status of being god or goddess, although such idolatrous concept would be strongly denied by the adherents. Everyone wants to feel good, but unable to cause goodness, due to inability to confront issues that may need to be addressed.
While, seemingly confining the issue of failure to confront, within the Christian environment, the same applies to various other organisms. In politics, as in our country, one can easily observe the effects of failure to confront; within the Zimbabwean ruling party, ZANU (PF) membership.
Within the supporters of that party may be people with different views, other than the ruinous policies that have dragged the country to its current condition. Chances are that the majority of those members have not got the courage to confront the hegemony, lest they be categorized as dissidents.
The problem with most people is that where the term ‘confront’ is mentioned, people think in terms of rebellion. But confront has got nothing to do with rebellion, as it could, actually, also imply dealing with possible rebellion.
Confronting simply means attending to any problem that needs correction for the betterment of society. The starting point could be by being a good listener. It is not always possible for a person who doesn’t listen to be listened to.
On engaging the adulterous Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus took time to listen to her. He did not start by mocking her adulterous life, as Jesus knew everything about her immoral conduct.
Jesus is the one who started the conversation that led to the deliverance of that woman. With all the sinful people that Jesus confronted, there was consideration of their background, before unpacking the gospel to them.
In the story of the calling of Peter and his brother Andrew, we see another example of confronting individuals, not bothered about religion. Jesus did not condemn those brothers for not being religious. He secured their understanding of Jesus, because Jesus understood them first.
Confronting sinful people is as simple as first engaging them in areas of their understanding, before securing their understanding of your concept. They will find your ideas acceptable as offering alternatives to awful conditions of life.
However, those people unable to confront, prefer pretending to be what they would be not. They therefore coin their words according to what their hearers would be interested to hear. Understanding another person does not mean pretending to agree with whatever would be unlikable.
The people who cannot confront think in terms of what benefits them at any given time, than would be what would happen further down the ages. In our political environment, in Zimbabwe, this has been our major problem, not necessarily the nature of the current leader. See [The greatest civilization emerging in Southern Africa?].
While the problem of failure to confront has negatively affected my country, this has also been a problem causing the degeneration of Christianity. The Bible has answers to all problems. But the same Bible is invalidated, not because of its complicated writings, but by failure to confront; among the Christian community, in general. See [Where Zimbabweans and Christians got it all wrong].
Virtually, all social sectors are also affected by the inability to confront. A person hooked in pornography, is in that condition because of failure to confront his sexual lusts. A temperament person also fails to confront his anger, possibly because he/she is proud of it? It takes a person who understands the principle of confronting to address any type of problem.
The starting point is to first ask oneself, whether what surrounds the person is likeable or not. The second step is identifying the steps that need to be taken to change the condition for the better. The third point is to go ahead and do what needs to be done, regardless of opposing forces.
Another cause for failure to confront is consideration of other people’s opinions. Like sheep, people fail to confront the status quo, even though living within the most uncomfortable conditions. They take comfort in blaming it on other circumstances than themselves. In Zimbabwe they, either always blame the former colonialists, or the nonagenarian President Robert Mugabe.
The drug addicts, or women with loose morals, will always blame it on their parents, or the environment of their upbringing. Those stuck in poverty will always blame it on lack of capitalization, or politicians. Indigenous farmers will always blame it on lack of farming inputs, or erratic rainfall patterns. The list is unending. But the bottom line is failure to confront.
The survival of animal species is also intertwined with considerations of confront. Traveling long distances for water or sustainable grazing, could still be another way of confronting survival needs. Otherwise, those animals would simply fall into the category of endangered species.
Human beings are, however, equipped with the superior minds, in order to confront survival needs with reason. Even hard work is not always necessary, for those adequately using their reasoning capacity, in confronting their survival challenges.
The major stumbling block, affecting humanity are customs and traditions. The inability to confront standing customs and traditions keeps people on the same conditions, regardless of the enslaving nature of such circumstances. The fears of the unknown makes people feel uncomfortable, with confront. They would rather maintain the standing traditions, even without quantifiable reasons for doing so. See [Traditions and idolatry are synonymous]
On stating that He came to give us freedom (Luke 4:18), Jesus implied enabling us to discover our capacity to solve all problems. There is no limit to our capabilities, because we were created in God’s image. This is why Jesus stated that if we had faith as little as mustard seed, nothing would be impossible to accomplish, even in this life (Matthew 17:20).
Note that this verse does not encourage people to have faith in Jesus in order to accomplish these things. But it encourages those people to have the faith of Jesus, for them to manage to handle problems in the way He did.
To be able to confront, one needs the faith of Jesus. It is only the faith of Jesus that enables confronting without being hindered by other obstacles like tradition and consideration of various other so-called limitations. See [Believing in Jesus is different from having faith in Jesus].
(In the next installment I intend to answer the question, as to why it is necessary to pray and what prayer is, after all. If able to address all problems with the technique of confronting, why is it necessary to pray then? Please stay tuned for the next installment, which should be early next week).
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from 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 reliefs to those having witnessed 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
Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com for $6.99