The countenance of the light

The light bears no opposition. Darkness and light appear as two opposites, but not. If one brings light where darkness prevails, darkness vanishes, not the light. Darkness cannot withstand light—hence, cannot be treated as the opposite. In any group, united with a common objective, there would always be some differences in the way of looking at things.

Dictatorship doesn’t help to enforce the agreement. However, anyone threatening to leave the group; is the source of the problem. This is axiomatic. In some Church groupings, financial leverage is considered, ahead of the truth.

Church leaders give priority to those contributing huge finances to the Church. They would rather suppress trinkets of truth, than upset those giving more, financially. Hence, when educated, smartly dressed, and with money, one becomes influential in Church decision-making.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favouritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

“Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbour as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favouritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers” (James 2:1-9 NIV).

Groups are often led astray, not because of powerful opposition from falsehood. James says people become judges with evil thoughts. The group succumbs when lured by financial prospects. Truth is too powerful to be compared with falsehood, just as God cannot be compared with Satan.

In reality, while darkness cannot defeat the light, it appears possible to extinguish the light. The Jews assumed having extinguished the light, by killing Jesus. But the light of Jesus remains, even after approximately two thousand years, since the crucifixion. Entrusted with the light, Christians can be guilty of absconding.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before me, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV).

The light can be hidden, but not necessarily defeated. The tendency to hide the light is three-fold. Firstly: caused by comfort in being praised. Politicians may say the voice of the people is the voice of God. However, when the same reasoning is allowed in Christianity, the light gets extinguished.

Those considering popularity ahead of God’s truth are false preachers, and therefore, God’s enemies. Truthful preachers stand by God’s truth, regardless of opinions from vociferous opposition. The focus is not on popularity, but on God’s truth, unopposed or defeated by anything.

Secondly: the invalidation of the minority, when assuming that truth is in majority. The account given by Joshua and Caleb prevailed against the majority. Their report, after spying on Canaan, was a light that could not be extinguished by the other ten spies (Numbers 14).

Stiff opposition can be intimidating, where democracy is considered virtuous. However, democracy ought to be invalidated by truth. Jesus was opposed by the entire religious citadel in Jerusalem, leading to His crucifixion.

“William Wilberforce was the main figurehead in Parliament for the Abolitionist campaign. He was born in Kingston-upon-Hull into a wealthy family of wool merchants and represented the town as MP. He was recruited by Thomas Clarkson, who recognized that, in order to get Parliament to change the law, the anti-slavery cause needed a brilliant advocate inside Parliament itself. Wilberforce was very well suited for this role. He was a great orator, wealthy, well connected, known for his integrity and was particularly keen to improve society, especially from 1785 after his conversion to evangelical Christianity.

“He made his first speech in Parliament against slavery in 1789 and made a great impression. However, a mixture of external events (including the slave rebellion in Haiti in 1791 which hardened public attitudes) and poor tactics prevented his abolition bill from being passed in the House of Commons in 1791. A similar bill proposed in April 1792 was passed by MPs only after it was amended and conceded to a ‘gradual’ abolition of the slave trade.

“During the period of 1792-1805 when England was at war with France, support for the abolitionist campaign collapsed. Wilberforce, therefore, pursued other issues of reform but retained his belief that one-day slavery would be abolished. In 1807, after a long, emotional debate, the Abolition Act was finally passed” (The British Library, The campaign for Abolition).

All this shows the invincibility of truth against the majority. William Wilberforce’s name remains after centuries because he stood for the noble cause. This is required among “Christians” regardless of their background.

Thirdly, Cowardice suppresses the truth, sustained to oppose survival. As an act of succumbing, cowardice is anti-survival. Imagine an animal as big as a buffalo, brought down by a single lion. A buffalo gets defeated, due to its satirical cowardice. However, as long as willing to confront, the chances of its survival remain.

Evil appears as winning, only because good people stand aloof, out of fear. The resurrection of Jesus is a clear testimony that there is no reason to fear death. Our Zimbabwean situation requires courageous Christians, willing to die for the truth.

Fourthly: Regarded as the most formidable, affecting the entire Christianity, is idolatry. People love worshipping. In the absence of a visible object for worshipping Christians often adore human leaders. The pastor may resist or not resist but the idolization persists.

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas;’ still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”   (1 Corinthians 1:10-13 NIV).

Paul struggled with this phenomenon, but could hardly win. Paul was idolized, just as other apostles were idolized. Idolatry cannot be easily removed from those assuming authority is virtuous. Paul highlighted this syndrome as triggered by ignorance.

In Lystra, there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” Barnabas, they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them (Acts 14:8-18 NIV).

Amazingly, humanity is resolved in idolatry, as to resist advice against it. Those idolaters assume pleasing God when idolizing leaders. Idolatry is real cancer in Christianity. In Zimbabwe, some great names can cause anyone to be stoned, for invalidating Christian leadership authority.

While highlighted in Paul’s writings, that problem has worsened in recent years. Christianity is divided, due to the idolization of those regarded as founders or leaders in their respective denominational enclaves. Such authoritarian structures were initiated by the Roman Catholic Church.

But they continued among protestant movements. The phenomenon continues up to this day. However, a Bible-believing Church cannot be stuck on such subterfuge. Jesus was clear on the subject of Church leadership.

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12 NIV).

Others assume it is impossible to have a leaderless Church organization. This comes from invalidating Jesus as the leader. Paul used a human body analogy, describing how Jesus controls the Church. This is as clearly articulated in the Chapters of the following Books. (Romans 12 & 1 Corinthians 12).

If eyes lead, nothing suggests giving eyes the authority to control other limbs. The illustration is perfectly effective, in quashing assumptions of impossibility without structures. I suppose it is impossible, only in organizations where Christ would be nonexistent.

The significance of Matthew 24:5 exposes those claiming to be leaders of God’s Church. “For many will come in my name, claiming ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” Cunningly, those treacherous Church leaders, convince their pliant followers to accept that their leadership would be authorised by Jesus.

God’s Church, whose members are Spirit-empowered, is not under human authority. Jesus does not first consult such leaders when intending to use anyone in His Church. I suppose only those without the Holy Spirit, need leadership structures.

“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. Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to son-ship. And by him, we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:9-17 NIV).

How possible can anyone control a person in whom God dwells? Did anyone ever try to control Jesus? Short of insanity, I do not see a normal person doing such a silly thing. But that portrays the description of what prevails. What is required are Spirit-led Christians. Nothing withstands the countenance of truth, just as darkness cannot withstand the light.

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. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

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