The future is more valuable than the present

Jesus’ teachings are not complicated. However, the trick to understanding Jesus is in appreciating and unlearning most, if not all of the previous teachings. The process of unlearning is complicated when assuming to know what is unknown. Jesus brought a simple formula, enabling grasping everything He taught.

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. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes” (Matthew 18:2-5 NIV).

There is no knowledge that remains forever, except the teachings of Jesus. Jesus kept insisting that with faith as little as mustard seed nothing could be impossible. Jesus was millions of years ahead of His audience. The dynamism of knowledge is vast and unpredictable, to ordinary humans.

The effect of adulthood is often regarded as honourable. However, for the purpose of absorbing knowledge, adulthood is dishonourable. The call to be as humble as little children, in order to understand things, is highly justified.

Smartphones are the most convenient gadgets to possess but have exposed adulthood stupidity, more than anything before. Never in this life has technology made life easier in the transmittal of information. Unfortunately, it has hastened the redundancy of most elderly people, rendering their vast experiences, valueless.

The majority of those sixty-five years and above, regardless of their educational background, have a hard time operating the latest technologies. It has only been those willing to unlearn past experiences, who have managed to adapt. This has clarified the significance of Jesus’ insinuation of how necessary it is to be like infants.

When unwilling to become like a child, one remains ignorant of the advancement of technology. Jesus suggested that His disciples needed to be as little Children to enter the kingdom of heaven. Anyone is teachable when displaying a lack of knowledge, rather than assuming to know.

The Pharisees failed to appreciate Jesus’ teachings and yet had Scriptures at their disposal, including teachers of the law.  They were also regular attendees to the Synagogues. They were not bewitched. Their only problem was not adopting the childhood attitude.

God’s Kingdom is futuristic but embraced by those willing to invalidate past knowledge. The glories, including the failings of the past, need to be discarded as each day approaches. The things of the past bear no significance, except when embracing God’s Kingdom.

Jesus introduced the Kingdom of God, which was as futuristic as the eventual end of this world. The limitations of the educational system are in the area of failure to appreciate future developments and events. This world carries the history of highly qualified engineers who became redundant.

Not so long ago the telephone industry went through drastic innovations. The people, who were assumed to be educated in the telephonic industry, some forty years ago, have been reduced to the level of the uneducated. This is different from those who became conscious of technological developments, so as to remain abreast.

But, unfortunately, it won’t be long before even the current knowledge, falls by the wayside. This, therefore, calls for remaining in the mode of childhood, until one reaches the point of death. There should never be a time to brag about past achievements, but to remain like a child.

The past has got no relevance to young children. When talking to my grandchildren about my past experiences, they look bewildered. There isn’t much value in those stories. The stories may be interesting, like fairy tales, but they hold no relevance in the lives of young children.

I have to be like them, rather than expect them to become like me. The more I seek to enforce yesteryear discipline on them, the more I lose their attachment to me. I keep adjusting myself to think like them, except helping them to appreciate reasonable things, against senseless ones.

Amazingly, they are more receptive to God’s Kingdom, than most adults. Christianity has been invaded by charlatans more than anything else, in this world. Therefore, I spend a lot of time helping those young children to realize the erroneous teachings.

Miracle performers need to be exposed, but more so the religious fanatics. It is in these two areas that Christianity has been reduced to irrelevance. The majority of people in this world claim to worship Jesus, who they view as completely divorced from humanity.

The only people who are qualified to call Jesus, Lord, are those with the Holy Spirit, although not in a worshipful manner. The rest could be saying Jesus is Lord, in vain. Rather than adopt what Jesus taught, their leaders instruct them to adopt what they teach before worshipping Jesus.

This is a scandalous but traditional Christian standpoint, today. One is assumed as approved of God, as long as one is obedient to the pastor. This is against the teachings of Jesus who warned against failing to heed the instruction to be like little children.

“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:5-7 NIV).

One fundamental lesson from this passage is that whoever welcomes a person who believes in Jesus welcomes Jesus. That is the same Jesus they claim to worship. While the religious fanatics cannot agree, the person who believes in Jesus is viewed by Jesus as not different from Jesus.

Jesus issued a statement that should leave the religious fanatics bemused. How can a person who assumes to know better, cause others to sin? Jesus said His true followers are those keeping themselves in the mode of childhood. Nothing is new about those projecting to know better than the newcomers.

Jesus taught what can be assumed as not making sense to those of the present time because those principles are futuristic. In their ignorance, most people tend to look at past experiences, more than using past experiences for innovating new ideas. The person who welcomes the little one in Jesus’ name is welcoming Jesus.

What is known today is not what was known yesterday, and is not what will be known tomorrow. To avoid falling behind, one has to treat what was known yesterday as unworkable today. This is just as what is workable today will be unworkable tomorrow.

But the same welcoming person is instructed to also remain as a little child. This is profound but very understandable. Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of God which is futuristic. Who can claim to know what is not yet achieved, except Jesus who was speaking from the position of knowledge?

“When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three, remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:11-13 NIV).

Paul was aware of past knowledge as reflective of a condition of childhood. This is different from assuming value in things of the past. Most adults love talking about their past experiences. The analogy stresses that one does not stop learning; hence, Paul declares: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.”

The Christian journey is quite interesting, as one yearns to see what one believes, by faith. Jesus said the best is to remain like little children, rather than assume knowing already. Paul then casts three things that are of significance: faith, hope and love.

Believing in Jesus requires faith, but with that faith, one remains hopeful of eventually receiving what is promised. Love embraces everything. It is impossible to offend when appreciating the significance of love.

Jesus surmised putting a millstone on a person’s neck, before throwing him into the sea, when causing God’s children to stumble. The most valuable people in this world are God’s children. The farmer gets excited when observing sprouting seeds in his field. Imagine how he feels when the marauding pests come to pick those sprouting seeds.

The farmer isn’t much worried about seeds that did not make it into sprouting. He feels disturbed, when the sprouting seeds, giving him the hope of harvesting, get attacked. This is how he becomes irritated, as to fumigate the marauding pests.

Jesus sees it in that same vein when surmising that it is better for one causing others to stumble to be treated that way. Like a hopeful farmer, Jesus looks forward to a bountiful harvest, when observing sprouting seeds. Imagine His view of those assuming to know, coming to disturb the process.

The timely teaching of Jesus is that His followers ought to remain as humble as little children. Those believers can easily become Jesus’ enemies, even though having initially been zealous for Him. God’s Kingdom should be perceived in futuristic terms, rather than in current terms.

Analogously, this can be viewed as the Israelites’ voyage from Egypt to Canaan. While they left Egypt with pomp and fanfare, hoping to reach the Promised Land, most of them could not make it. The same is true of Christians, highly hopeful of God’s Kingdom, but unreachable to some. In the Book of Hebrews, this reality is clearly highlighted.

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you is found to have fallen short of it.  For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’

“And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: ‘On the seventh day God rested from all his works.’ And again in the passage above, he says, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience” (Hebrews 4:1-6 NIV).

In our Christian pilgrimage, the only way to make it is to keep the idea of remaining as little children. Foolishness is found in maintaining past knowledge, as though one would have attained the Kingdom. All of us are infants, as far as our Christian journey is concerned.

It does not matter who God enlightens ahead of others. The most important thing is that we are all infants, in the eyes of God. To defeat deception, each Christian ought to appreciate that Jesus is the only authority, in Christianity. Miraculous performances are only there to hoodwink newcomers.

There can be more exciting feelings for the newly converted, on becoming Christians. But it is important to remember that the fulfilment of God’s Kingdom is way ahead. Humility does not mean cowardice, though. It means sincerely standing for what one believes until proven wrong.

We are all children in the eyes of God. The possibility of being led astray is ever present, according to Jesus. Therefore, while respecting those having come into the faith before us, we do not lose focus in that they are children, just as we are.

As Christians, we are our brother’s keepers. Jesus said we treat each other as equals so that no one can be exposed to the proverbial millstones on their necks. That is the only way of ensuring to remain on track. None is greater than the other.

Great excitement is exhibited after receiving the Holy Spirit, enabling one to become God’s child. But, although having left sinful Egypt, many more obstacles still remain. The danger lies in failing to appreciate the possibility of losing out, yet having struggled all along.

The good news is that the journey is as easy as appreciating every word of Jesus, our faithful captain. The Christian journey is very interesting but requires discarding everything that may trip us along the way. Pride is the most dangerous of them all.

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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