Jesus’ Second-coming spectacle is for non-Christians

The first thing is to describe what Christianity implies. Knowing that a Christian label is not, necessarily, sufficient in describing a Christian, is essential. Jesus did not label His followers “Christians.” The term was first used in Antioch to describe the peculiarity of believers, when compared to ordinary people, at that time.

“Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year, Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch” (Acts 11:25-26 NIV)

There is nothing wrong with describing Christ’s followers, as “Christians.” That term, accurately, denotes their identity. A Christian is different from worldly people, just as Jesus was different. It is wrong to expect good treatment when truly a Christian. Foreigners are commonly treated as aliens, forfeiting benefits accorded to citizens.

Jesus alluded to the “Christian” term when addressing His disciples, who could not understand the significance, before receiving the Holy Spirit. The world would not recognize them, just as the world did not recognize Jesus. Christians and ordinary people are worlds apart.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you” (John 14:23-25 NIV).

Understanding the significance of Father and Son, and establishing their home with Christians, is extremely essential. The common misunderstanding arises from the inability to distinguish differences between spiritual and physical bodies. The two are just like the light and the darkness are dichotomous.

If physical bodies need space, for existence, spiritual bodies do not need space. If physical bodies need food, for survival, spiritual bodies do not need food. If physical bodies feel cold, requiring houses to dwell in, spiritual bodies need none of those. If physical bodies feel limited by anything, spiritual bodies are not limited by anything.

Therefore, in hinting about making a home with believers, Jesus blocked nonbelievers from understanding. Any Christian is at home with God, regardless of location in this physical universe. This is why Christianity can be regarded as lonesome. Those feeling limited without other humans, denote being of this world.

The common accord among Christians is being at home with Jesus and His Father. They find companionship, living according to God’s word. They belong to God’s Household. It goes without saying, that what is in God’s mind would also be in their minds, regardless of location in space.

“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).

The tie that joins believers is Love, as described by Jesus. That love causes rejoicing when persecuted or treated badly by worldly people. The reason for persecution comes from the consideration of not being of this world. Expecting rewards for doing well, denotes being of this world.

Hence, for Christians, being treated kindly does not invite celebration. The pilgrimage of Christianity invites acerbic treatment, in this world. Such persecutors comprise physical relatives or those from one’s fellowship.

“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).

Accusers could use Jesus’ name, to advance persecutions. Such accusers would be convinced of doing the right thing when harassing God’s children. When taking offence, resulting from bad treatment, one forfeits being part of God’s family. The ability to rejoice and be glad under persecution denotes the only sign of being part of God’s Household.

Those praying night and day should not necessarily be construed as belonging to God’s household. They could be sincere and very religious in their outlook but divorced from God. However, that does not mean such people should not be cared for, similarly to how those of God’s Household ought to be cared for.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48 NIV).

Jesus’ statement is inapplicable to ordinary humans but applicable to God’s children. Those expressing cynicism against such scriptures, cannot understand, yet God’s children fully understand.

True Christians can never assume that being kindly spoken of, necessarily denotes being God’s child. One’s services may be appreciated, but that should not be construed as guaranteeing one to be God’s child. Jesus said God’s children are those treated badly, without reason.

Yearning for appreciation is misplaced, for true Christians. The greatness of Jesus is found in loving, even with good reason to hate. Some Bible students feel honoured when conferred with theological degrees. But that is not what necessarily makes them God’s children, distinguished only by their ability to love and pray for their enemies.

Does that mean one should strive to love, even while gnashing teeth, in revulsion, when treated badly? The truth is that it is impossible to practice God’s love, without God’s grace. Those able to love are God’s children, who are not different from God. What does it take to be God’s child?

“Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Romans 8:8-12 NIV)

Without God’s Spirit, one is not God’s child. But how can one receive God’s Spirit? This question was asked by converts, after Peter’s sermon, during the Pentecostal phenomenon. Those people had recognized their emptiness, without God. Peter did not hesitate telling them the required process, before their inclusion into God’s Household.

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, Brothers, what shall we do? Peter replied, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:37-39 NIV).

But how possible can simply being baptized in Jesus’ name, guarantee inclusion in God’s family? There is no difference between Christ and His Father, as united in Spirit. One cannot separate Jesus from His Father, codified in God’s Spirit. This implies the referred baptismal instruction by Jesus, to His disciples, after resurrection.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

In His communication, Jesus spoke in bifocal terms. The disciples received secrets of God’s Kingdom. However, to ordinary people, Jesus spoke in parables. To receive secrets of God’s Kingdom, self-denial was necessary. Jesus did not randomly provide secretive information to ordinary people. The starting point is appreciating being God’s child, as opposed to those of this world (Matthew 16:17-19).

Those who have realized being God’s children behave differently. Those people cannot continue with sinful activities. To authenticate dedication to God, one submits to baptism, signifying transformation—depending on God’s purpose for that person. There is no other process towards true Christianity.

Getting baptized by whichever denomination is immaterial. The significant thing is to be clear of being baptized in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  This denotes becoming at one with God and Jesus Christ. To such people, God reveals the secrets of God’s Kingdom.

The spectacle of Jesus’ Secondcoming cannot apply to such people, who are at home with God, after all. The second coming, just like any other prophetic message, is intended for nonbelievers. This is not referring to God’s children, enjoying the privilege of being in God’s Household.

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matthew 24:30-31 NIV)

The key feature is in the “Son of Man”. Why did Jesus describe Himself as the Son of Man, instead of “Son of God?” This implies that the Son of Man is different from the Son of God. This makes it impossible for those comfortable to be in this world to access the secrets of God’s Kingdom.

Jesus’ Second coming is a continuation of human judgment, leading to redemption from the current state of degradation. The Judgment started with Jesus who became the first to experience judgment on the cross. Christianity seems favourable to most people, although Jesus warned against adopting Christianity.

“However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:16-19 NIV)

Ironically, most Christians are committed to church-going and other considered good activities, anticipating rewards. They expect to be rewarded fairly, at Christ’s Second-coming. Nevertheless, for true Christians, judgment is current. This is what makes Christianity a deadly business. One cannot pretend to be a Christian when the opposite is true.

“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 14:31-33 NIV).

I have written this before and write again: The safest thing is either to be ignorant or to be knowledgeable, on Godly matters. The danger lies in assuming being ignorant when the opposite is true. Or, assuming to know when the opposite is true. Wisdom requires, taking these words seriously.

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 who have 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.

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