A human being was created in God’s image. The troubles faced in this world were never intended to affect humanity until falsehood encroached. The statement that only the truth sets people free, is axiomatic. The only surprise stems from why people seem to deliberately reject the truth, in favor of falsehood. Only a few people, rather than the majority, are willing to accept truthful information.
Falsehood comes packaged with glory, as giving comfort to those concerned. Truth is unpopular, while falsehood has always been sensationally popular. Unfortunately, even the truthful people are also susceptible to capitulation. Populism gives comfort to physical nature, seeking to avoid pain at all times. Yet value is not found in avoiding pain, but in confronting pain.
The insane fail to distinguish between right and wrong. Normal people are capable of distinguishing between right and wrong. The challenge comes when unwilling to confront, in order to advance what is right. This applies to any other facet of living, as distinctly divided into these legendary dichotomies.
For instance, knowledge is contrasted with ignorance. But how many people are willing to confront ignorance. The Pharisees had been the custodians of knowledge. But Scriptures reveal that the Pharisees rejected Jesus, as unwilling to move from their erroneous positions. The behavior of the Pharisees is common, even in our time.
Instead of learning from the Pharisaic experiences, apparently, many Christians are unwilling to confront truth from their dogmatic standpoints. Where there is a certainty, there is no doubt. A person who knows does not need to defend what he knows, except comparing it with what is unknown, to galvanize his knowledge. There is nothing unknowable, as long as willing to confront the unknown.
Regrettably, we are inundated by respected scholars, fixated on assumption, rather than truth. There is no absoluteness in assumption. From time immemorial, the subject, as important as Christianity, has been treated with the assumption, rather than truth. Ask any theological Scholar, a simple question: Is it true that God is triune in nature? Very fascinating answers are given, ranging from hallucination and citations of previous Scholarly interpretations.
But what one knows to be true should be regarded as not requiring citations. The person with knowledge carries the responsibility of what he knows. Jesus asserted this reality when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. He used the plural term “we” implying that the knowledge He was referring to, could be accessible to His followers, in this case, the truthful Jews:
“You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:20-24) (NIV).
A person with knowledge holds no doubt of what he certainly knows. True knowledge comprises what comes from the source. All falsehoods are based on assumptions, rather than truth. In today’s world, students are considered capable, as long as able to quote the so-called renowned Scholars. This is where the façade lies.
Most religions, vehemently defending their dogmatic positions, are sustained in false data. Those in the business of distributing false data are found in all sectors of humanity. There is falsehood in general information, including religion, medicine, and political affairs.
The subtlety of false information seeps through the unchecked conduits, lacking verification. Nothing is as important as appreciating that not all data is true. All problems, making this earth hell, emanate from false data, wrongly assumed as true.
Coming out of the maze requires posing questions about everything concerning one’s own existence. For instance, if believing that blacks are inferior to whites, who is the source of that information? Similarly, if believing in authoritarianism, what is the origin of that information?
Being right or wrong, should not be determined by others. The person concerned carries the responsibility to check the veracity of what is believed. Such false information could have come from naturally trusted people, like parents. The believed information cannot, necessarily, be true, until independently verified.
Sadly, trusted parents are not immune to false data. The only thing that enables one to attain freedom is truth. The majority of poor people, especially, in Africa, assume that a person attains freedom after having accessed money. Hence, people engage in some corruptible activities.
But, even those having attained wealth incorruptibly, are in need of freedom. This is why the known wealthy people, like the Microsoft inventor, Bill Gates, engage in humanitarian activities, rather than just enjoying their abundant wealth. Bear in mind, also, that the financially free, also fall sick, or are connected to relatives in diverse health challenges.
The truly liberated have no qualms, even when living in poverty-stricken areas. Such people have a passion to help the needy, more than helping themselves. Holding a passion for helping other people does not primarily come from the position of wealth. Benevolence is a spiritual condition that does not consider wealth valuable, necessarily.
Jesus was, indeed, free from all the common problems of humanity. In their positions of ignorance, most people fantasize in assuming that Jesus lived a considerably wealthy life-style. Hence, the extremely rich church leaders are admired and revered, when assumed to be the true representatives of Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, the question of whether such church leaders truly represent Jesus ought to be based on truth, rather than falsehood. Neither the poor nor rich church leaders should be regarded as truly representing Jesus, necessarily. Freedom is of the spirit, rather than being associated with physical nature.
The life of Jesus was not extravagant. He associated with the poor, just as he also associated with the rich. But he could not be categorized in either of those two echelons. Imagine a known reach mogul like Zacchaeus having to climb a tree, just to take a glimpse of Jesus (Luke 19:1-10). Zacchaeus’ admiration of Jesus had nothing to do with physical wealth. Even though wealthy, Zacchaeus had not been free.
In His teachings, Jesus exuded knowledge, convincing many, that freedom was attainable to those following Him. That was true, to those fully understanding that such freedom had nothing to do with physical wealth. Jesus repelled those intending to follow, based on material issues:
“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head’” (Luke 9:57-58) (NIV).
Jesus’ response did not necessarily imply that He, Himself, was stuck in poverty. Jesus spoke from the position of freedom. The declaration; “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head’ intended to clarify motives. Following Jesus on the basis of acquiring financial freedom, is a fallacy. This is why Jesus declared the impossibility for a wealthy man to attain God’s Kingdom:
“Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ ‘Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.’ ‘Which ones?’ he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” ‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’ Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Matthew 19:16-22) (NIV).
The man desired freedom, but could not understand what entangled him into bondage, in the first place. Poor people assume there is freedom in the financial acquisition. Yet the rich deeply know that there is no freedom, even in wealth.
Wealthy people die, just as poor people die. Proud people die, just as humble people die. Black people die, just as white people die. Ugly people die, just as handsome people die. Cruel people die, just as the kind or humane people die. We have to analyze the actual reason for the rich young man to reject the offer of eternal life, as advanced by Jesus.
The young man attested to having been a law-keeper. But that was inadequate, for him to attain eternal life. This is what troubles ordinary humanity, even today. People desire freedom, without knowing what causes bondage, due to misunderstood words.
The term “freedom’ is vaguely understood, as assumptions are taken for granted. Jesus brought freedom that ordinary people are unwilling to confront. They are aware of the advantages, associated with light, yet preferring darkness.
As used to live in darkness, ordinary people find the illuminating light too intimidating. Like cockroaches, they scamper into hiding, assuming there would be danger in light. True, indeed, light poses danger for cockroaches, finding safety in hiding places.
Instinctively, humans behave similarly, unaware of being different from cockroaches and other species. It takes a person who is willing to confront, to begin to appreciate the tenets of freedom. The significance of freedom is connected with Genesis 1:26-27. Yet this is a Scripture that only a few are willing to take for what it says, in the entire Christian fraternity.
If only one percent of the entire world population took this Scripture for what it says, there would be marvelous strides towards positive developments. Jesus was not ambiguous in advancing such reality. While Jesus vehemently made freedom available, He was killed.
Human beings are God’s children, as created in God’s image. While true, the message of freedom is as unpopular as many readers cannot read further, after mentioning this reality. This is not surprising. Jesus had to be killed as attested in the Book of John:
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:10-13) (NIV).
Salvation and freedom have remained elusive for most people. One of the reasons causing this phenomenon is the wrong assumption that wealth brings freedom. While true that there is apparent satisfaction in wealth, the wealthy can attest to there being no freedom in wealth.
This is confirmed in the young man who rejected Jesus’ advice. He may have been admired by many. But his physical demise exposed his dubious assumption of freedom in the accumulation of wealth. Let alone that his wealth also perished with him. There is no freedom in wealth.
It is therefore necessary to unpack the tenets of freedom, as applicable to humanity. The starting point is appreciating having been created in God’s image. God is Spirit. Therefore, a human being, created in God’s image is also spiritual, as not affected by poverty.
A spirit being caused goodness, more than being the effect of bad conditions around him. Those that crave wealth are, basically, the effects of bad conditions in their environments. However, within those craving for goodness in the environment, lies hope and freedom. Without clearing the cause of falsity, humanity will continue wallowing in bondage.
Goodness is real, just as badness is real. However, there is no truth lying in-between goodness and badness. As wallowing in hosts of problems, most humans take comfort in existing between goodness and badness, resisting either extreme.
This anecdote is an answer to all challenges, appearing as having no solution. Problems lie within the area of assumption, rather than certainty, in what is known. Something becomes true, only when having concluded the veracity of its existence. Those holding onto the faith, based only on what is said by pastors, ought to be pitied.
As long as the evaluation of the information is concluded without the consideration of source, bondage prevails. However, there is freedom in choosing to agree with what another person says, as long as clinically evaluating that information, to sustain veracity. This is what the Bereans did, after listening to what the apostles had to say, about Christianity (Acts 17:11).
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.
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