The value of a diminutive sparrow

Those playing games with nuclear weapons are much safer than those playing games with the Holy Spirit. In the world of the internet, capturing a large following on social media is regarded as most desirable, to be impactful. The less number of followers, the less energized the person becomes, on social media platforms. However, for believers, taking note of Jesus’ usage of a sparrow to prove His concern for matters that are considered insignificant, is worthwhile. This shows Jesus’ consideration of the meticulous activities of Christianity, after His departure.

 “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Also, I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven” (Luke 12:6-10 NKJV).

Of all the birds of the air, Jesus chose the sparrow, whose value was considered the least, to elaborate His point. This proves His illustration that God cares about those deemed insignificant, in society, rather than the popular ones. To those considering the value of disseminating Jesus’ teachings, the question of impact does not necessarily come. Another interesting factor was Jesus’ allusion to numbering hairs. From birth to death, who, in this world, has ever cared to think about hair numbers?

Regardless of individual backgrounds, it is foolhardy to consider oneself unimportant. Jesus proved the point that no one is unimportant. A normal person ought to take stock in his survival capacity. In a suppressive environment, such as ours, some people do not consider themselves worth anything on matters considered valuable. Hence, they seek to attract attention, to be accepted in a suppressive environment.

Advocate Nelson Chamisa is heavily criticized for quoting Biblical Scriptures. I know of no other criticism levelled against him. Such critics assume that they have the best intentions for advancing such criticisms. They reason that one cannot be a politician when quoting Scriptures and expecting to have an impact. Scriptural quotations are relegated to fringe Church-goers. Even Jesus’ dying on the cross is considered laughable.

It is for that reason that for acceptance, most believers find comfort in not publicly speaking about Jesus. The most desirable thing for anyone to be impactful is to be a socialite. The value of being a socialite lends one to securing a large following. The most desirable thing is to be a celebrity. One cannot talk about Jesus in public and expect to be taken seriously. This leaves only a few taking seriously, Jesus’ words:

Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, he the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9 NKJV).

The denial of Jesus does not necessarily translate to fear of being killed. It is about the consideration of how one is viewed in public. Many people consider that aspect of public profile extremely important, not wanting it to be disturbed by being associated with Jesus. Therefore, being lukewarm, for most Christians, is not necessarily driven by fearing death, but by fearing the loss of one’s reputation.

To secure a commendable public profile, as a politician, in Zimbabwe, one is expected to talk about “revolution,” more than Scriptural quotations. Some of Advocate Nelson Chamisa’s critics have cited his Scriptural quotations, yet being a politician. This suggests Christian monopoly consideration. Their view is that Christianity should not be associated with worldly governments.

The same Christians have no problem being governed by worldly people whom they desire not to see them quoting the Scriptures. To them, Christianity is laughable, and not to be taken seriously. They assume to be separate from “sinners,” when wearing the label of being holier than those politicians. How more Pharisaic can one be? Jesus’ most precarious anecdote is the one captured afterwards:

“And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven” (Luke 12:10 NKJV)

The Pharisees can be considered safer. They said whatever they said against Jesus’ personality, even including nailing Him on the cross. However, Jesus attested that they would be forgiven. This is different from Christians, described as sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive 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 through his Spirit, who lives in you.

“Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of son-ship. And by him, we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s Children” (Romans 8:9-16 NIV).

The Pharisees can be viewed as having been foolish, for failing to recognize their Messiah. But the lamentation of Jesus was not necessarily against those Pharisees. Jesus consistently lamented for those who would blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. Those people can’t be forgiven, according to Jesus.

This reveals how deadly, identifying with Jesus can be when feeling embarrassed to be a Christian. Those playing games with nuclear weapons are much safer than those playing games with the Holy Spirit. Jesus mentioned that the value of a diminutive sparrow is in God’s concern. What more is the value of a person considered to be God’s child?

How can such a person devalue himself as to be embarrassed going public about Christianity? There are many things that one can do in this world. But nothing is considered as embarrassing as the Calvary’s cross. The most successful people in this world cannot hide having done embarrassing things in this world.

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But such embarrassing things are unconsciously justified by acceptance among sinful people. Humans desire to preserve integrity. No one wants exposure to shamefulness, which avoiding, keeps one in sinfulness. Adam and Eve went into hiding, immediately after they had taken the wrong fruit. From Adam and Eve’s experience, the origin of sin can be observed as having begun:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:7-13 NIV).

The reversal of that condition was crafted to be effected by Jesus. If the conduct of Jesus would not be shameful, it would not be effective. Jesus had to make a deliberate endeavour to go through the shame, to reverse the shamefulness, introduced by Adam and Eve. This marked the time that even His closest friends deserted Him, in His most time of need:

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me for one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”  (Matthew 26:36-46 NKJV).

For the first time in His physical existence, Jesus became extremely troubled. It had to be His tenacious determination to drink the cup, to reverse what had fatally condemned the entire humanity. His experience at Gethsemane was an unparalleled degradation. Even the Gentile Governor, Pilate, could not understand the behaviour of the Jewish community.

The public humiliation was administered without due consideration of meritorious justice. Jesus’ experience would not have been horrendous, had He committed any crime. It may also not have been spiritually torturous, had the ill-treatment been committed by Gentiles, rather than by His people.

The emotional pain was more agonizing than physical torture, in sinners’ brutality.  However, this was required for humanity to reconnect with their Father.  Jesus led the way through which His followers would be expected to walk. The focus would be on Jesus, whose route His followers would not be expected to avoid.

“Greater love has no one than this than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake because they do not know Him who sent Me” (John 15:13-21 NKJV).

It is unhygienic for those claiming to be Jesus’ followers, to avoid the experiences faced by Jesus, for whatever reason. Going through that experience is required of His followers, one way or the other. Confessing Jesus equals exposing oneself to degradation. Unwillingness to experience shame is similar to the invitee, found wearing different attire in that wedding banquette. The only way through is through it. Christianity was never designed to be easy.

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.

The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99

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