Both truth and falsehood can compete in popularity. The only common denominator between the two is that truth is unpopular at the beginning, towards inevitably sustained popularity. However, falsehoods begin with popularity, yet degenerating to extreme unpopularity.
Strangely, as commonly passing unobserved by many, the undignified things, often turn out to become most popular. Perhaps it may not register to ordinary humans that Christianity was most unpopular, at the beginning. As He walked on this planet, Jesus was the most unpopular figure. Why is it that in recent years, Jesus has become most popular?
Truth does not fade, and true Christianity describes what does not fade. Yet, there is an appearance of popularity, as embracing Christianity, which is sure to wane, as long as not based on truth. When engaging in Christianity, one ought to appreciate the distinction between the popularity that diminishes. And the popularity that increases towards eternity.
The problem with popularity is that it discourages intellectual analysis. Popular things are taken for granted. Young children possess the undiluted truths but get polluted by adults, assuming to know everything, even when the opposite is true. What goes on in the environment is always taken for granted.
It takes only the considered rebellious ones to disentangle themselves from the grip of false information. Rebellion is often exclusively wrongly associated with wickedness. But rebellion includes disagreement with wrong practices. Going against the authority is often considered wrong, even when aiming for positive development.
This can be viewed as factual when examining the activities characterizing the liberation struggle. Ian Smith would attest having had obedient people among the blacks. Yet those blacks were considered sell-outs, by those advancing the idea of the liberation struggle. The obedient characters lived well, at that time, notwithstanding their being considered sell-outs.
Those who chose to be on the side of the liberation struggle were, commonly, unpopular. They had to behave in a silhouette manner, to avoid being identified with those considered as terrorists. Just imagine being considered a terrorist, when advancing the idea of human liberty?
Sad, though, as those whose agenda was for black emancipation, later became the worst oppressors. The most popular idea, for all eternity, is freedom. The question remains to be how freedom can be accessed, when under oppression, by those stuck in assuming to know better than everyone.
Why is it that bad things have a knack of being highly popular, although destined for destruction? There are axiomatic principles, answering this peculiar phenomenon. All bad things start by being popular. Yet all good things start by being unpopular. Jesus hinted at this reality when giving the parable of the mustard seed.
“Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” (Mark 4:30-32 NIV).
Lack of popularity describes what grows from insignificance to become powerful and unstoppable. When considered insignificant, a weak person, even with the best ideas, can become discouraged as hanging in despair. In the above Scripture, Jesus describes the manifestation of God’s laws in action.
As a rule, the opposite applies, to something sustained in falsehood, initially embraced with pomp and fanfare. It is often impossible for most people to gauge the timing of things sustained in falsehood. The other way of identifying falsehood can, therefore, be by the magnitude of its popularity.
Greatest endeavors, start small so that only careful observers perceive them. Failure to observe is what causes failure to appreciate valuable information. Truthful data is not always readily acceptable to ordinary humanity. One of the ingredients of false data is popularity, at the time of inception.
False data carries the propensity of popularity, as appealing to advertisements. This viewpoint projects things highly attractive to most people. But, anything of the gigantic scale of usability would have had decades of experiments, prior to eventually becoming most popular.
This is clearly known to be the case, in the field of science. The most recent scientific discoveries are a product of thousands of years of experiments and incessant rejection. Some of the most valuable information is yet to be revealed, as subjected under heavy suppression.
This describes the competition between forces of darkness and forces of light. The forces of darkness pursue projecting themselves in the limelight. The phenomena of advertising, capitalize on this reality. This does not necessarily imply that everything advertised does not have survival value.
It simply means that advertising, although necessary in this world, holds no role in what is good and workable, which can effectively be advertised by users. Everything that is good ought to be judged and advertised by those having benefitted from such products.
The dominant winner in advertising is falsehoods, ahead of truthful information. But, while capturing what prevails, the limelight guarantees the irrevocable demise. Most of what captures the media, through advertising, will end, whether in this life or in the life to come.
One rich young man confronted Jesus about eternal life but failing to appreciate the trap in populism. The young man represented many people, unable to comprehend what Jesus said. This is just as there are many people who cannot appreciate what Jesus said, even today.
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).
This was not a parable. The anecdote, showing that the rich young man sincerely desired God’s Kingdom, reveals something interesting. His riches made it unrealistic to imagine having to forfeit the adored advantages of such monetary wealth, for God’s Kingdom.
There is competition in this world. The aim of every young man is to become rich. Careers are pursued, only for purpose of becoming popular and rich. Jesus uttered what was out of this world. And indeed, it was unrelated to the behavior of ordinary humanity in this world.
God’s Kingdom was as popular, as sought by any normal Jew. This is what was intended by that rich young man. It is unfair and untrue that the Jews rejected Christ because they did not desire God’s Kingdom. Even the richest of this world, have a burning desire for God’s Kingdom.
However, money and wealth, as competing with God’s Kingdom, are assumed as capable of handling problems. The ability to solve problems, whether using money or miracles, invites popularity. Jesus was also popular, as He solved ordinary people’s problems.
But, Jesus’s popularity had nothing to do with His desire to become popular. Jesus, simply focused on truth, more than receiving adulations from ordinary people. Instead of advertising Himself, Jesus consistently told those receiving His healing services to avoid publicizing Him.
“At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (Mark 7:35-37 NIV).
By instructing those people, not to tell anyone, Jesus was doing the opposite of what advertising entails. Perhaps, no other industry can be as successful as advertising in this world? Generally, successful businesses are successful because they advertise. Those unable to advertise are projected to always fall on the wayside.
The purpose of advertising is to generate popularity, as sustaining businesses. Even with the best product, one cannot go far, without advertising. Jesus had the best product, but He shunned advertising. When considering that the product of His ministry prevails, since the first century, there must be another formula for popularity, rather than common advertising.
Jesus did not advertise Himself. He did not advertise the new way of life, as projecting God’s Kingdom. Preaching about God’s Kingdom is different from advertising, which projects what is advertised, in the limelight. Preaching is opposed to, necessarily, advertising the gospel. Yet the product of His ministry prevails, after approximately two thousand years ago.
The rich young man rejected God’s Kingdom because his riches were at stake. But, today, the rich young man cannot even be imagined as having existed. The little value, possibly sustaining his legacy, perished with him.
What he jealously sought to protect cannot be found anywhere, in history. Except for the anecdote now scripturally recorded as negatively used to help those, learning something from his misjudgment. But, he was, obviously, popular, at his time.
He was competing with those displaying wealth, in that environment. This is why Jesus’s suggestion could not make sense to him. What would people conclude, when viewing him as having reduced himself to the condition of unpopularity, distributing wealth to the poor?
Nevertheless, such unpopularity describes Jesus’s popularity, growing by leaps and bounds, up to this day. The upshot of it is that the greatest popularity represents the unpolluted truth, whose sustenance is in its workability. Jesus was advertised by those benefiting from His services.
Those people could not hide the truth that changed their lives for the better. Therefore, we see two principles, opposed to each other, yet both generating popularity. The generality of people wrongly considers seeking popularity to be normal. The corruption, existing in Zimbabwe, today, is a product of pursuing popularity.
Those applying Jesus’s principles do not advertise their noble activities. They attract scorn and ridicule, viewed as behaving abnormally. Their behavior is not different from the behavior of Jesus, portrayed as claiming to be the Christ, yet accepting victimization on the cross.
Very few people appreciate what Jesus went through, even though currently heralding His name, right across the entire world. There is truth in that, while positively projecting His name, falsehood is also projected in His name. The truthful Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
The behavior and the general conduct of humans are still the same. Those behaving religiously, but rejecting Jesus in the first century, were not different from those currently rejecting Him. Such scornful behavior will continue, until Jesus’s second coming.
The rich young man, unable to renounce his wealth, for God’s Kingdom’s sake, is represented by many, even in our time. The scornful Pharisees are represented in different religious groupings, just as in the first century. There cannot be anything exciting in this world when the entire world population needs salvation.
Jesus left a legacy, showing that true popularity is not found in wealth. To receive true popularity, one has to forfeit everything of this world, for the sake of God’s Kingdom. The insults, coming as a result of pursuing that way of life, cannot be overwhelming, to those who are certain about Jesus’s power.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12 NIV).
There is the popularity that comes with persecution and suffering, whose package is eternal life. That is what Christianity entails. Yet there is also the popularity that comes with success and adulation from ordinary people, leading to death. Each person is free to choose, just as the rich young man was free to choose.
Life is very short, in this world. There is no need to carelessly pursue popularity, instead of advancing value to other people. The deteriorative condition of a Christian can, therefore, be measured by the degree to which he/she desires publicity and popularity.
This is regardless of how commendable, the activity that would be advanced. Invariably, true Christians are judged by either lending support to populisms, whose eventual demise is as sure as the rising sun tomorrow. Or, supporting the unpopular truths whose destiny is assured in God’s Kingdom.
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
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