The purpose of physical existence

The purpose of existence in this life cannot be identified uniformly. There are four personalities, represented in four categories. The first category consists of people, living just for themselves. The second category consists of those desiring to bear children. The third category consists of those surviving to make a difference in their respective communities. The fourth and last category consists of those making a positive difference for the entire humanity.

The four groupings can be regarded as applicable to normal people. However, a careful analysis reveals that those living just for themselves are on the verge of insanity, although hard-working and making money. A person could accumulate properties and do fascinating things, yet the death of that person ends everything.

The second category describes one, who also works hard, but aims at providing for his own family only. The person could accumulate wealth but focus only on providing for his/her children and nothing else. This type of personality can be considered better than the one living just for oneself.

Sadly, that person’s wealth can create dangerous fights among children, after his death. The person might assume being considerate and loving to his children, but only creating the opposite. The best investment for one’s children is providing them with intellectual capabilities. Physical provisions for children can serve only to spoil them and cause them to fail to take responsibility.

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:13-21 NIV).

Was the inheritance more important than eternal life? The inheritance complainant could not weigh both issues, to determine workability. He had been too obsessed with inheritance. A person cannot be obsessed with one aspect, without forfeiting the value of the other.

The futility of accumulating too much wealth can, potentially, create problems for one’s children after death. The inheritance appears good for physical existence, but problematic to spiritual existence. The inheritance complainant who approached Jesus for arbitration, merely, sought justice.

The family man always assumes that value is limited to catering for children. His family may be envied by others, and indeed carry some hope, as some children might become enlightened, along the way. That would depend on them making the right decisions and adopting better methods of living; thereby, cleaning one’s parents’ past foolishness.

However, if the offspring continues in the trajectory of self-centeredness, there would be no hope. Self-centeredness is attractive to most people but portrays a tragedy in human existence. All our problems can be traced to living a life of self-centeredness.

The third category can be described as patriotic, when viewed, nationally. That person would be hard working, as well, but interested in the affairs of his countrymen. He engages in activities that uplift the living conditions of his fellow countrymen. A country can be blessed, when many people would possess such a mindset, in a country.

The category implies focusing on group activity projects. The attachment to a group may be regional, or national. Or, this could be denominational, in a Church setting. In their denominational enclaves, Christians portray the third category. Such Christians are not concerned about other denominational problems.

Those of the third category could be regarded as heroes, whether regionally, denominationally or nationally. But, one may not be regarded as a hero by other groupings. There is an aspect of competition, carrying a tendency of being jealous. While such people are a blessing to their own people, those from other groupings may not regard them as such.

Their activities may be hindered by unintended external enemies. Handling competition can be problematic among humans. Without God’s Spirit, humans carry the spirit of pulling down successful people.

Humans feel threatened by outsiders who are successful. Compared with the first two; the third category is generally superior. However, although admirable, the third category still contends with external enemy challenges.

This morning I read a comment, concerning a video, circulating on social media. The comment was about the Zambian President, HH; narrating his prudence in handling national resources. The video projects what is, obviously, good for the Zambian people.

The writer’s comment stated how the video had riled the Zimbabwean authorities. The writer mentioned that the Zimbabwean government propagandists were badmouthing the Zambian President. Whether true or not, the writer was confirming the truth about excelling in group activities.

The successes of one group create problems in another group, whose failures could be exposed. This is an example of disadvantages emanating from heroic activities catering for one group, without involving others. The achiever, obsessed with improving one’s own group, may not necessarily be bothered by what happens in other groups.

But there would be positive results in his/her constituency. The common understanding among nations is that no one is allowed to interfere in other people’s territories. That sounds noble, but enveloping unpredictable problems. Such problems can be worse than those created when confronting what is wrong with one’s neighbour.

The fourth aspect of the human category points at something that is different from the previous three categories. That person is not regional or partisan in nature. He looks at the interests of the entire humanity. That person seeks to treat humans, similar to how one treats him/herself. One’s contributions to humanity are international.

It is impossible to think about a character of this nature, without factoring in, Jesus Christ. In His teachings, summarized in His three-and-a-half-year ministerial activities, Jesus emphasized on this aspect. The single word to describe such behaviour is Altruism.

Some people may be quick to suggest worldwide philanthropy as describing such a category. However, that category is more than applied to philanthropy. The philanthropists would feel insulted if someone suggested treating them as poor. They feel comfortable when observed as providing to the degraded subhuman beings.

Altruism is different in that one applies the principle of not differentiating oneself from another fellow human being. This is why Jesus appears as having no match, with regards to applying His philosophy. We have to grapple with the question of whether there are people imitating His life, in this world, or not. The advantages of altruism are innumerable but describe what God’s Kingdom entails.

“You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other” (John 15:14-17 NIV).

Contrary to the assertion that Jesus is exclusively a human member of the Trinity, Jesus declared that those applying His teachings are His friends. One cannot separate those, whom Jesus calls friends, from Him. You cannot stand on top of the mountain, claiming to love Jesus, but disregarding His friends, assuming God would be impressed. That is futile.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world, we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love others because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:14-21 NIV).

The worldwide philanthropic activities are generously appreciated. The organizations involved in such activities are known and appreciated worldwide. Their profiles are properly documented. But that does not make them friends of Jesus. The reason is that what they do would not be according to the teachings of Jesus. We have to refer to the Bible to establish what Jesus specifically said, regarding the giving principle:

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4 NIV).

Giving can be good. I, personally would appreciate those coming to provide me with whatever I would be lacking. But that does not necessarily make those people friends of Jesus. The philanthropic activities will remain appreciated, worldwide, but there should not be any assumption that those philanthropists would be God’s friends. The standard of giving, as prescribed by Jesus cannot be applicable to ordinary people of this world.

The people, who give their tithes, so that they can be blessed, are not included in that category. They would be appreciated, as to receive awards from high quarters, but they would not be the friends of Jesus. Receiving admiration from fellow humans is the worst thing to a friend of Jesus.

As long as people know you for what you have done to benefit humanity, Jesus says you would have received your reward. There are so many people who have received their rewards from humanity, in this world. Those are different from those who give in such a way that their left hands would not know what their right hands would be doing.

In one’s lifetime, one can be reminded of commendably recognized works. Included among those achievements would be the School Awards. However, because of the time-lapse, such awards carry no eternal value. A granny who is observed as unable to walk without crushes, cannot proudly talk about awards received during her youthful times.

Good things done in this life, come to an end. We have to think in terms of doing things that carry eternal value. In other words, what matters most, in this life, is to please God, rather than please humanity. Giving could involve God’s work, but depending on how one would be exercising the giving. The purpose of living in this world was aptly put, by the preacher.

“The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. In making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandment, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:11-14 NIV).

Blessed are those who ponder on these words, and realize that living in this world is futile, without applying God’s words. One can be celebrated from all corners of the world, but all that counts to nothing, without God’s blessings. As pilgrims in this world, humanity is advised to think more than just eating, drinking and seemingly enjoying life before death.

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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