The death of Dr Alex Magaisa is shocking. I had wished to personally interact with him, in this lifetime, having been addicted to his contributions to social and political debates. Something interesting about life is that one gets intimated to people, without having personally met them.
I may have been attached to Dr Magaisa, more than I was attached to some of my close relatives. Dr Magaisa’s viewpoints were agreeable with mine. This raises many questions about the mystery of life. Some people are closer to strangers than they ought to be to close relatives.
Life itself is eternal. However, James describes human life as a mist that appears shortly and then vanishes. James’ revelation can help us to refocus. One’s contributions can vanish as if never existed.
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (James 4:13-17 NIV).
Some people’s contributions live on, after their demise. Dr Alex Magaisa left an indelible mark, on his admirers. It was not Dr Magaisa’s physical nature, but his rich content that made a difference.
Dr Magaisa was different from those, having lived without impacting others. Life itself is complicated, as others may be celebrating the death of one considered an enemy. Trouble-causers are not wished to live longer.
Life can exist without the physical body. Existing in the physical body enables acquiring experiences, which impact other people’s lives, as well. Without impacting other people, life is meaningless.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants” (Psalms 116:15 NIV).
Who are God’s faithful servants? God’s servants enhance other people’s lives, showing them the way to happiness. The principle of life is a spiritual matter, rather than the physical; catered for, by medical doctors.
Medical Doctors cannot contribute to life enhancement. Physical existence is not as real as spiritual existence. Due to ignorance, people hold on to what is temporary, rather than what enhances life, which is permanent.
There is no purpose for those having attained righteousness to continue living in some physical bodies. Physical life can be described as hell. As existing eternally, the life component denotes what does not need some physical body to exist.
The determination to choose between life and death is facilitated by physical existence—enabling the discovery of the formula for eternity. Hence, the Lord rejoices at the physical death of His saints.
The opposite is true, for ordinary people, who wish death for evil people, but wish long life for good people. Many are exasperated by the long life of wicked people and are known to grieve when the righteous ones die.
Instead, God grieves when evil people die. There would be hope, as long as the wicked survive, physically. Wishing a long life for wicked people does not mean God loves their bad conduct. Job appears as having also been disturbed by this phenomenon.
Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes. Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not on them. Their bulls never fail to breed; their cows calve and do not miscarry. They send forth their children as a flock; their little ones dance about. They sing to the music of timbrel and lyre; they make merry to the sound of the pipe. They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace.
Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?’ But their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked. “Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out? How often does calamity come upon them, the fate God allots in his anger? How often are they like straw before the wind, like chaff swept away by a gale? It is said, ‘God stores up the punishment of the wicked for their children.’ Let him repay the wicked so that they themselves will experience it!”(Job 21:7-19 NIV)
Our benevolent God allows wickedness to thrive. The righteous should be accustomed to bad conditions, as Randy Pausch puts it: “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.” (The last Lecture)
A child faces rough experiences in life. Learning how to walk, and falling violently, at times, enables obtaining the needed experiences to avoid falling next time. The child may not even remember those youthful experiences, shaping him to become a good sportsperson, for instance.
Wicked people provide tough lessons, for the righteous ones. Rather than praying for their removal, righteous people petition God to help them live through such difficulties. Life is enhanced by tough experiences.
Out of failure to understand, some righteous people get devastated, unnecessarily. Rather than get bothered, one seeks ways to serve God under those circumstances. What is important is to know that God never intended that this world should be easy-going.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”(James 1:2-4 NIV).
James’ exhortation reminds the importance of life. The privilege of life requires tougher experiences, to then; 1) be able to experience anything. 2) Be willing to cause only what others can experience, easily. This toughens the person to face anything, including death.
Existing among those without the same knowledge for sharing can be intimidating and frustrating. However, it takes a willingness to go through such circumstances, due to accumulated experience.
Best friends may persecute those with knowledge, when unable to comprehend what is new. That can be devastating, but necessary for personal development. Imagine what Jesus went through, with the Jews?
They could not believe what Jesus taught, yet they could not find anything wrong with the data. They had to fabricate charges against Jesus, to justify their murderous agenda. Jesus had the information about life, as opposed to their advocating for death.
One could gauge one’s conduct, whether leading to life or death. To avoid death, one learns to apply the Scriptures, which instruct rejoicing in face of problems. It is not even necessary to mourn God’s people, killed for whatever reason.
God’s child cannot mourn where God is rejoicing. At the same time, God’s Child cannot rejoice where God is unhappy. The death of God’s people is pleasurable to God. The apostle Paul attested to that reality.
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me” (Philippians 1:20-26 NIV).
Paul was communicating with those still weak in the faith. Having been a source of encouragement and inspiration to them, Paul’s death would have devastated them. But Paul’s life was as temporary as the mist, according to James. Having pointed them to Christ, those believers ought not to have relied on Paul anymore.
Paul’s reason for being torn between two postulates was his awareness of the weaknesses of his followers. Most of them could not spiritually survive without Paul, whose desire to live longer, was not driven by his personal concerns. This was an outward concern for others.
Paul knew that death was advantageous, after having become united with Christ. As mentioned earlier, the physical body is unnecessary, for a freed individual. The pilgrimage in physical life can only be for the purposes of accumulating the experience of living.
What discourages humans from pursuing life is vanity, which focuses on self-serving, rather than serving fellow humans. Living without positively impacting other people, makes life worthless. This is why good people live on, even after their physical death, as illustrated by Jesus.
At this, they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him.
If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds(John 8:52-59 NIV).
The Jews were speaking from a physical viewpoint, which James described as resembling the mist. If Abraham is dead why are we talking about him, even today? But, more significantly, Abraham is represented in what was created in God’s image, which does not die.
Abraham passed his test and got transferred into eternal life. The question of not seeing Abraham is answered in not seeing God, today. Spiritual people cannot communicate directly with physical people. Without the Spirit, it is impossible to see God.
But, the existence of the Spirit is easier to prove than the existence of the physical body. I struggle with identifying my old pictures when going through a pack of old photos. My physical body is currently that of an old man who young girls can never be attracted to.
Similarly, most of the wrinkled grannies, seen around, may have participated and won in some beauty contests. The physical structure of a person cannot be as real as his spiritual condition. After having obtained the truth, one’s identity does not change. His identity matches what was created in God’s image.
However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:9-16 NIV).
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