Human strength is considered the opposite of what it has always been assumed to be. I suppose when Jesus indicated that the first shall be last, He had viewed this with the consideration of this datum in mind. When one is promoted to a higher rank, he generally carries the impetus of respect and reverence.
The trappings of human nature lie in being admired, envied, or worshipped by other fellow humans. It is assumed that the older a person becomes, the wiser he would be. But that viewpoint does not agree with what is commonly observable on the ground. The older one becomes, the stupider one becomes.
The Zimbabwean government is led by elderly people, assuming they deserve to be respected by the younger generation. Their unmistakable blunders are in the public domain. The entire country has been dragged into the mud, with the gloomy conditions remaining in abeyance, until the unsuspecting next generation.
The degradation of humanity appears impossible to confront. While the hope could be in the younger generation, culture requires younger children to follow in the footsteps of the elderly. Unless there is a concerted effort to reverse the cultural norms, the future remains gloomy.
The yesteryear adults continue to contaminate the younger generation with the fantasies of failures, dubbed as successes. Nothing appears as taking away the immutable reality in that youths hold the key to a better future. Children can be communicated with, easily, without the interference of the adults.
When education is properly evaluated, the high rate of failure is caused by instructors who love domineering. An instructor who constantly seeks to display being better than his students produces failures. However, an instructor who highlights the strengths of his students could produce the best, from his pupils.
A domineering instructor is suppressive and should not be allowed in any classroom. A good instructor is a good listener, seeking to identify the level of understanding, applicable to each pupil. Although young and not yet exposed to many experiences, greater potential exists in young learners.
In their different talents, students should be allowed to be themselves, rather than be compared with others. Instructors need to be constantly reminded that God did not create dumb personalities. The level of degradation, in school children, needs addressing, according to their level of understanding.
The heavenly standard, in the teachings of Jesus, cannot be assimilated among stubborn societies. Nothing could be considered as too difficult, in Jesus’ teachings. The only difficulty was projected in the hardheartedness of those listening. Jesus highlighted the most important datum before ascension.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1-4 NIV).
This is the most crucial datum for those aspiring to be in God’s Kingdom. Unfortunately, this cannot be saleable to those embedded with false information of elevating the adults against children. The viewpoint changes, when children are granted the most dignified honour, in society.
The possible workable honour that can be accorded children requires educational transformation. Instead of advancing the narrative that adults are wiser, educators highlight the potential value in children. Educators become facilitators, more than being superiors.
Currently, the only thing that has exposed the stupidity of elderly people is information technology. Whether adults like it or not, information technology appears as having jettisoned their supremacy. Most of them feel embarrassed, talking about their past.
It could not have been an advantage to be born in those olden days. Life cannot be as difficult as it was during those darker olden days. Nevertheless, as long as adults are allowed to maintain dominance, it remains highly impossible for conditions to reverse, unreservedly.
Sanity can easily be brought to any nation, as long as children are not treated as sub-humans. Sanity is assured when not allowing the psychosis, associated with primitive viewpoints, where educators are allowed to domineer against young people.
The only obstacle, blocking understanding, as insinuated by Jesus, is the idea that one knows everything already. A good learner is one who opens up to information, without prejudicial assumptions of knowing the unknown. Willingness to learn is the only key.
The attitude of the Pharisees was caused by their failure to understand the teachings of Jesus. Their attitude resembled what prevails in our current situation in Zimbabwe. The majority of those considered as good people fits well with the Pharisaic attitude that permeated the environment.
Ordinary people had high respect for the Pharisees. This is just as ordinary people have high respect for those in religious circles, in our time. Jesus Christ constantly warned the disciples to be wary of what He identified as the leaven of the Pharisees. He meant their superiority posture.
“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:6-12 NIV).
Not many people could understand what Jesus was talking about. And it is possible that most people, even today do not get it. What was the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus was referring to? The Scriptures, in their scrolls, were perfect. The challenge was in their method of teaching.
Throughout Jesus’ teachings, the common feature was His confrontation with the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Nothing shows that Jesus opposed Scriptures, but the misinterpretation of Scriptures. Such misinterpretations were a result of authoritarianism.
Catholicism mirrored the Pharisaic methodology, although purporting to be advancing Christianity. Popular as Catholicism came to be, though, the dominant question against their teachings, lingers. Were the adherents baptized in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit or not?
Jesus provided the model of how that baptism ought to be carried out. He submitted to being baptized by John the Baptist, just for the sake of fulfilling the requirement, as projected in Scriptures. John had attempted to object, but, as Jesus said, the Scriptures had to be fulfilled (Matthew 3:13-17).
Leaven puffs up, just as a person who assumes that he knows, is puffed up. This happens to be what Jesus was referring to, in view of the Pharisaic behaviors. There is no need to be puffed up when privileged to disseminate information that others do not have. All humans were created in God’s image, deserving to always be accorded that consideration at all times.
Throughout His parabolic teachings, Jesus answered questions according to the level of understanding, with questioners. Jesus avoided the idea of domineering—telling people what to do, rather than helping them to appreciate the meaning of Scriptures.
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”
In reply, Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37 NIV).
The parable appealed to common reasoning, more than advancing what could be considered as new. The Law expert may have had the answer, but without understanding the practicability of the Law. When properly analyzed, God’s Law is premised on common sense than anything esoteric.
Jesus represents an ideal personality, created in God’s image. He used the parable of a Good Samaritan to distinguish an ideal person created in God’s image. A cultured person would not have problems, behaving like a Good Samaritan. The landmark question is why a priest and a Levi, passed by, leaving an injured person in that sorry state?
The simple answer is that the two were not themselves. They lived lives according to how they wished to be perceived by other people. A typical example, in our country, can be what prevails in our toxic politics. Many religious personalities, would neither dare say nor do anything, in fear of being muddled in politics.
They consider protecting their integrity and personal interests more important than going out to do what is right. As long as one does things in consideration of how other people would perceive him, that person is not ideal. He would be a fake personality. This underlines the demarcation between young children and adults.
In their prime years, children live without pretending to be what they are not. They may do things not likeable to ordinary people, but they project the reality of their personalities. Children may not even be conscious of whether there would be God, or not. Theirs would be to project their true personality.
Jesus’ instruction is that unless adults behave similarly to how children behave, it is impossible for them to attain God’s Kingdom. Surprisingly, the referred adults are those also having been children, at some point. The referred children would also grow to become adults.
The children cannot remain as children because they assume the behaviour of adults is what describes maturity. They aim at behaving like those influential adults, in their space. To them what is most important is behaving in a manner that agrees with what goes on in the environment.
The entire world is shaped by people living the lives of others, rather than their own lives. It is the consideration of what is fashionable than what the person considers to be the right thing to do. By insinuating that the adults should behave like little children, Jesus is focusing on the aspect of fake personalities.
Each person has his/her origin from God. The confused milieu under which the person survives throws him/her out of balance. The person makes the mistake of conforming to what goes on in the environment, rather than remaining in his/her true identity.
The question of personal identity remains unresolved until death. However, if taking Jesus’ instruction realistically, one attracts God’s mercy. God desires to communicate with the true personality. It is at that point that the Holy Spirit would be availed to such a person.
In other words, who the person was created to be, has got nothing to do with the consideration of other people. Like a toddler, the moment one discovers being God’s child, one ceases to worry about other people’s viewpoints. Only at that point does the person connect with his/her creator.
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.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99
Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com for $6.99