Humans are hopeless, as long as not in contact with God, who created them in His own image. But, the same humans may not know the cause of their separation from God, in the first place. The only reason why humans live with the hope of being united with God is a result of ignorance. Why would a person feel empty, when possessing an assurance of having been created in God’s image? Everything is now achievable through Christ, who declared that without Him, humans could do nothing.
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”(John 15:4-7 NIV).
Nevertheless, we would be taking Jesus out of context, when assuming that Jesus holds the prerogative to decide a person’s destiny. Jesus intended to help those desiring knowledge, to appreciate that He was the only source of knowledge. There had been those assuming to know better than Jesus.
Any person can quench his thirst, even when drinking from a pond, other than that of Jesus. This is like a branch supplanted elsewhere, other than in the true vine. It is impossible for such a branch to produce desirable fruits, as not associated with the original. Jesus represents the original.
Strangely, people separate themselves from God, of their own volition. Sin is attractive to ordinary people. But sin is not attractive to God’s children. The problems of humanity stem from the inability to know humanity’s origin. Out of ignorance, God is rejected by many people.
Choosing not to obey God is a self-determined factor, but being a result of ignorance. Conversely, choosing to obey God is self-determined, due to knowledge. How can one distinguish the voice of God, from many voices coming from those of this world? This can be an immensely daunting task. However, Jesus makes it easier for humans to access knowledge and truth.
Christian Churches should not be regarded as brazenly declaring disbelief of Jesus’s teachings. In their multitudes, those Christian organizations appear as fully committed to Christ. Their followers are not necessarily forced to be under their tutelage.
Such followers are often attracted by the charisma, displayed by the preachers, or attracted by any other point of interest. Such interests could be music or the dress code, donned by the congregants, in a group concerned. The majority are attracted by miracles.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”(Matthew 7:21-23 NIV).
The rejected ones, in the above Scripture, make it appear as if there is an impenetrable riddle towards Godliness. However, Godliness is a matter of choice, when aware of being God’s Child. The rejected ones also appear as interested in pleasing Jesus, as their Master, rather than embracing godlessness?
There is only one aspect, depicting Godliness, as compared to godlessness. Everything about Godliness is not associated with physical attraction. Yet, godlessness attracts attention to oneself, when projecting public attractions. The admirable things done by godless characters are glamorously displayed to attract public attention. There is no other distinguishing factor between godlessness and Godliness. Godly actions are not for public display, according to the teachings of Jesus.
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4 NIV).
Godliness does not have anything to do with showoff. Naturally, humanity assumes that public approval confers Godliness, yet public approval, actually, confers the opposite. Currently, Christianity is sustained by renowned Theologians. Anything outside scholars is regarded as heresy.
Obviously, this shifts the commitment of one’s faith from Jesus, to Theologians? To be accepted as a Christian, one has to subscribe to scholarly presentations. The common reasoning by the considered fair-minded people, is to reject anything not subscribed by scholars.
Unfortunately, this is how Christianity easily rejects common sense, when putting faith in scholastic achievements. Scholars are authenticated by educational doctorate or professorial degrees, for public acceptance. Renowned Theological Scholars are treated as referees, on matters of Christianity. Yet Jesus Christ declared:
“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept glory from human beings, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts”(John 5:39-42 NIV).
The educational system aims at impressing, rather than serving humanity. Theological studies are for public honor, rather than for the salvation of humanity. Such revered recognitions are directly in violation of Christian doctrines, stating that goodness should not be publicly displayed.
The professorial theological degrees attract public respect, thereby contrasting true Christianity, as delineated by Jesus. Even the least consideration of dignity, is doing right things, without seeking public approval. But nothing else has made Christianity unattractive, more than the emphasis on avoidance of public approval, as basis of Christian pursuit:
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:26-27 NIV).
One gets polluted when granted adulation from the public. Jesus said, even when giving alms, the right hand should not know what the left is doing. Godliness avoids being polluted, through public approval. On the contrary, godlessness yearns for pollution, when seeking prodigious adulations.
It is impossible for those desiring adulation to pursue Godliness. Their inclination is to be hurt, when not praised, for their kindly acts. This goes against Godliness. Public approval drives towards godlessness. I suppose our revered theologians ought to dwell on Jesus’s teachings, rather than yearning for the elevation of their statuses in society.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Matthew 20:25-28 NIV).
These teachings sought to guide the disciples towards shunning public approval. This was designed to attract them to the new life, granted by Jesus. That new life had nothing to do with public approval. The essence of Christianity is in Jesus’s death on the cross, which attracted no public approval.
This world is generally driven by the consideration of public approval, more than laying down lives for others. Sacrifices should not attract public approval, but God’s approval. The rejection of Jesus, by the rich young man (Matthew 19:21-23) reveals human’s inclination to sinfulness. Selling possession to benefit the poor, is unattractive when pursuing worldly esteem.
Government ministers and Members of Parliament are often traditionally granted diplomatic respect. Attraction into politics is, basically for purposes of receiving public honour. There is no other reason for desiring political positions in this life, except to be granted honourable positions. However, Godliness insists that being publicly honoured is dishonourable.
This is why following Jesus is unpopular (Luke 14:25-33). Only godlessness stipulates that public honour is a blessing to be accepted with open arms. The New Testament Bible is replete with Jesus’s teachings showing the principle of adopting humility, for purposes of attaining Godliness.
Jesus, Himself, although being the Christ, offended many people, by associating with the lowly in society. For those motivated by the truth, the revered theological degrees can never be as motivating as adopting Jesus Christ’s behavior and teachings.
The significance of Godliness purges what appears as granting dignity, in life. The physical nature, itself, is not humanity, which cannot be separated from God. As long as one is attracted to the material things of this world, he gets separated from Godliness. His humanity is degraded at the point of receiving adulation from the public. When desiring a label that attracts a consideration of honour a Christian loses the heavenly honour.
The heavenly honour is not achieved through the honour granted by those of this world. A true Christian becomes worried, the moment those of this world grant him with honour. He becomes glad, only when receiving public dishonour and persecution by those of this world (Matthew 5:10-12).
I suppose, nothing is as unpopular as teaching that Christianity was never meant for public approval. Nevertheless, teaching the opposite is the gross misrepresentation of Christian teaching. The true teachings of Jesus identify with His mistreatment on the cross. Hence, the apostles found pleasure in being ill-treated, rather than being treated well.
“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah”(Acts 5:41-42 NIV).
The apostles were motivated by the suffering, induced by the cause of true Christianity, more than they were motivated by the approval of false Christianity. This is diametrically opposed to Christian popularity, as known today. Most Christians do not even know the meaning of Christianity.
They conflate the physical condition of humanity with Spiritual humanity. The clinical separation between the two identities was clearly delineated by Jesus when depicting the foundation of God’s Church. Jesus projected the Godly revelation of Christianity, rather than the scholarly revelation:
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’
They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.”(Matthew 16:13-20 NIV).
The two personalities shown, are the “Son of Man” and the “Son of the living God.” The identity of Jesus, as perceived by Peter, could not be perceived by ordinary people. This is where our beloved theologians get dribbled. The Son of Man is different from the Son of God. This cannot be observed by Scholars. Jesus said only God could reveal that mystery.
Those engaging in studies, can be assured of receiving worldly honour and glory. But they would have separated their humanity from Godliness. Anything of this world is not Godly. Regardless of how honourably received, by those of this world, such honour serves to separate one from Godliness.
What is Godly, cannot be seen by physical eyes. It represents what was created in God’s image, not seen by physical eyes. As long as one would have received the honour from those of this world, one would have been separated from Godliness. But, as long as having been dishonoured in this world, one would have become honoured by God, thereby, treated as God’s child.
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