There is no other human being known to have ever displayed the dramatic resurrection from death, in the way that Jesus did. Not even a single one of the religions of this world can prove the resurrection, except Jesus. Human beings still fear death, but the resurrection of Jesus makes that fear unwarranted.
But, can it be possible to fear death and believe in Jesus, at the same time? The answer is in the negative. Believing in Jesus means that it is no longer necessary to fear death, anymore.
Unlike most religions, perhaps the issue of believing in a person is more pronounced in Christianity than any other religion. What does it mean to believe in Jesus? The answer lies in that only Jesus fulfilled the Messianic promise, according to the Hebrew Scriptures.
The promised Messiah, according to the Jews is, however, expected to deliver the Israelite nation from captivity. However, the Old Testament Scriptures show that the Messianic promise encompasses the entire humanity, and the referred captivity is spiritual, rather than deliverance from oligarchy, or colonialism.
Believing in Jesus is just as the same as believing in God. Another name for Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Perhaps the better way of phrasing the question ought to be: what does it mean to believe that Jesus is the Messiah?
The Messiah was expected to come from Heaven, but also identifying with this world. Jesus wouldn’t have been the Messiah, if He did not identify with the people of this world. His appearance here on earth, leaves no excuse for anyone not to believe in Him.
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:9-10) (ESV).
The significance of the above Scripture is in the Lordship of Jesus. The only sign that Jesus is Lord, comes from the fact that He was resurrected from the grave (Matthew 12:40). There is no other sign to prove to humanity that Jesus is Lord, except that Jesus was resurrected from the grave.
Jesus is not a religious leader, but the Lord of all humanity. All the religions of this world ought to know that Jesus’ extraordinary feat is in being resurrected from the grave. That alone puts Jesus above everything that any human being can ever imagine.
Currently, Jesus is not taken as who He claimed to be, by those who profess to be His followers. Instead of making Him Lord, Christians have deified Him and produced a religion called Christianity, out of His personality. Jesus was the Son of God, for humanity to appreciate that they are also the children of God. Religious leaders insist that Jesus, as the Son of God, is different from us and deserves to be worshipped, instead.
When Jesus was here on earth, He did not idolize God, but manifested God’s presence in His own life. This is why, to the woman at the well, Jesus declared: “God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) (ESV).
The Lordship of Jesus implies worshiping Him in spirit and in truth, not in idolatry. The significance of worshiping in spirit and in truth is in identifying with Jesus in every pattern of one’s thoughts. His presence becomes manifested in one’s presence, just as God was manifested in Jesus.
The idolatrous worship separates a person with that which is worshipped. What is worshipped is given all the reverence, as expecting what is worshipped to intervene in solving one’s problems. This describes the condition of Christian worship, today. But this type of worship is similar to how other religions of this world worship whatever it is that they would be worshiping.
Without noticing it, Christians idolize Jesus and make Him out to be an accessible object when troubles are faced. This is not different from how the Hebrew worshipers behaved, before Jesus came. But a Christian worshiper ought to be different from Jewish worshipers.
The Christian worshiper worships in Spirit and in truth. Today, the common statements, as known to be uttered by Christians in their interactions can be phrased as follows:
“Let us pray for God’s intervention in our national problems.” “I am looking for employment; please pray for me, as I go for an interview, tomorrow” “My brother is sick; please remember him in your prayers.” Opposing football teams are also often seen praying for successes of their respective teams, before kick off. How on earth, is God expected to then respond to such prayers?
Nothing appears amiss with prayers of this nature. Such prayers give comfort, in the knowledge that God hears prayers. But the missing link is in failure to appreciate worshiping in spirit and in truth, just as Jesus indicated in His prayer model. The ordinary folk prayers keep Christians in idolatrous condition. One who prays in spirit and in truth cannot separate his/her wishes with God’s wishes.
Worshiping God in spirit and in truth means that the person’s mind becomes similar to God’s mind. We should bear in mind that as God thinks so does a true worshiper thinks. When we worship God in spirit and in truth, we surrender all our personal desires and commit ourselves to the desires of the Lord.
I suppose the best scriptural reference to describe this type of worship can be understood from a Roman Centurion’s perspective. Jesus said He was marveled at this Army Captain, whose faith had not been found in Israel (Matthew 8:5-13).
The Army Captain had not been an ordinary worshiper, as commonly known, even today. He may not have had any idea of how the Scriptures looked like. But, he simply believed and acknowledged that Jesus was an extraordinary man of authority. That kind of belief alone captured Jesus’ attention:
“I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven, while the sons of the Kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:11-12) (ESV).
While at this, please allow me to clarify what is commonly misunderstood among Christians. The Kingdom of Heaven referred to here, does not mean that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be in Heaven. It simply means that Jesus would have brought the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
That is why Jesus taught us to pray thus: “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” The purpose of Jesus is to restore the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. [See ‘Christians love Heaven, while God loves the world’].
Belief in Jesus should not necessarily be for purposes of revering His personality, as appreciating His ever-presence, to solve one’s real or imagined problems. It implies believing that Jesus is everything in one’s life.
A true worshiper ceases to operate independently of Jesus Christ. In other words, one cannot believe in Jesus and still hold onto one’s traditions and wishes that have got nothing to do with the mind of Jesus. That is what “in spirit and in truth” implies.
Belief in Jesus means being at one with Jesus, so that the old has disappeared and the new has come. In other words, the new reality as found in Jesus, makes a person operate on a different plane. See [What do you mean: Jesus is Lord?]
Other people in that person’s surrounding may not even fully understand the person, just as, even the disciples could not understand Jesus. A true Christian lives in this world, but he/she is not of this world. He/she understands people, but, generally, people do not fully understand him/her.
Belief in Jesus means that one thinks differently from how ordinary people think in this world. This means shelving the assumption that Jesus is supreme and cannot be likened with anything. This is because a true Christian him/herself is like Jesus.
Ordinary Christians believe that a Christian can live as he/she pleases, as long as he/she is faithful in giving tithes and worshiping every Sunday, or Saturday. But a true Christian is not necessarily obsessed in such customary practices, just as Jesus was not. Jesus may have practiced such things, but He also embraced those outside such religious activities.
While I admit that these are hard studies for most people, I take comfort in that a few will find a lot of sense in what is being said. Those desiring to know more are free to contact me anytime and engage me, at their convenience, or purchase a copy of ‘Dimensions of a New Civilization’, as shown below.
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