“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:27-31 NIV).
Although loved by many, Christianity carries an unsolved enigma, highly unpopular, yet quite popular, as a religion. Those thronging Jesus, during His time, were not Christians. But I suppose they wouldn’t agree with the assertion that Christianity was unpopular.
The presence of Jesus was characterized by multitudes, wishing to access His miracles in solving their problems. The same can be said of what currently prevails. People need Jesus, for purposes of solving their problems. There is nothing wrong with that viewpoint, except ignorance, when assuming that those thronging Jesus were Christians.
The problems of humanity are a result of misinformation. Jesus, Himself, stressed the point that only the truth sets people free (John 8:32). When holding to the conviction of truth, one has to explore the anecdotes by Jesus, pertaining to His teachings.
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:25-33 NIV).
Jesus was warning the gratuitous followers, benefitting from His services. He never took advantage of free advertising by those benefitting from His services. The above Scripture, simply, highlights the truth, intended to give freedom to the misinformed.
His teaching stressed the solemnity of Christianity. Jesus highlighted possible folly, displayed when provoking an enemy fortress before adequately evaluating one’s artillery and manpower. History carries nations blundering along those lines, to their own detriment. Similarly, Christianity needs understanding, before involvement with it.
Nothing is as dangerous as walking in darkness. One risks stepping on venomous serpents. But more importantly, those walking in darkness are aimless, not sure of arriving at their destination. They would be sustained by probabilities, rather than certainty.
Peter vehemently promised to stand by Jesus, only to flounder at the most critical moment. Most Christians behave similarly. The records, such as David’s adventure to confront Goliath, are often taken out of context. Christianity cannot be sustained by escapades, but by faith.
David was fully aware of his inadequacy when deciding to confront Goliath. He stood on God’s position, rather than trusting his inexperience in fighting battles. In other words, although assuming to confront the inexperienced David, Goliath was, actually, confronting God.
“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.’” (1 Samuel 17:45 NIV).
What Goliath could not understand was that he intrinsically was confronting the invisible God. If David stood in God’s name, Goliath was confronting the unseen God, rather than David. How possible could it be, to fight in the name of an invisible God?
Some people may argue that when determined to pray hard, one could easily overcome survival challenges. Like Baal worshipers, some may be eloquent in prayers, but without receiving positive answers, from God.
Probably, the fortunate ones are those having decided to give up in despair? It takes an analytical person to realize the futility of doing the same thing continuously but expecting different results. The syndrome of failure to analyze was displayed by Baal worshipers.
“So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. ‘O Baal, answer us!’ they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. At non, Elijah began to taunt them. ‘Shout louder!’ he said ‘Surely he is god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.’
“So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.” (1 Samuel 18:26-29 NIV).
It is not my mission to taunt Christianity, similar to how Elijah taunted the Baal worshippers. But I suppose those taking Christianity seriously, can use Elijah’s experiences with Baal worshipers, to examine their Christian standing. Jesus recommended the most appropriate prayer, but seemingly unpopular, to most Christians.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray, standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.
“Then, your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:5-8 NIV).
The purpose of prayer is not to persuade God to change His will, to accommodate the petitioner’s will. Prayer’s purpose is to align the petitioner’s will to God’s will. When carefully examining the Lord’s Prayer, nothing focuses on personal desires.
Even the term “Give us this day our daily bread,” should not be taken as referring to physical food. The Daily Bread refers to God’s word, which may either be written or Spiritual communication. The disconnection between God and His people is caused by physical needs.
One gets entangled in temptations when disconnected from God’s word. Prayer keeps believers attached to God’s will. Even though having repented, the sinfully magnetic physical pulls remain. Prayer enables attachment to Godliness, rather than worldliness.
A Christian is a new Creation, being in this world, but no longer of this world. The safest thing for Christians would be dying, immediately after receiving the Holy Spirit. However, God’s people are kept in this world for the purpose of advancing the gospel to others.
Assuming safety, after having received God’s Spirit, is a serious misconception. The only way to keep oneself attached to God is by prayer and regular fasting. While Bible studying is also important, nothing surpasses the idea of truthful prayer and fasting.
The understanding of Scriptural texts is not that important. As long as connected to God, the appreciation of God’s will is automatic. Whatever makes a person angry, would be what makes God angry. And what would make God happy would be what makes the person happy, as well.
Christianity starts at the point of discovering one’s identity, as revealed in Matthew 16:17-18. When discovering one’s true identity, the reasoning capacity changes. The person is no longer related to anything of this world.
Let us expose falsehood in assuming that one can relish worldly acceptance and be God’s child, at the same time. God’s children are aliens to those of this world. The checkout mechanism, whether on track or not, is only by how much one receives worldly acceptance.
God’s children do not crave media coverage, as not projecting themselves in the limelight. God’s children do not even look different from those of this world. When handing Jesus over to the infidels, Judas Iscariot had to employ a kiss, for Jesus’s identity.
Sadly, it is commonly on record that Christianity is regarded as the most popular religion. While commendable that Jesus is highlighted, what is discouraging is the misrepresentation of Jesus’s teachings. Many people dance with Christianity, yet without conversion.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-22),
The underlying factor is God’s will, having nothing to do with the environment. When applying the Lord’s Prayer, the petitioner seeks to be guided by God’s will, when stating: “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
As long as applying God’s will on earth as in heaven, one engages in serious spiritual combat. God’s will and the earthly person’s will are in conflict with each other. In other words, it is impossible to apply God’s will on earth and experience an easy lifestyle.
Only on rare occasions can a Godly person experience an easy lifestyle on earth. It goes without saying that in a country as corrupt as Zimbabwe, some “Christians” claim to be under God’s protection.
They live well, in disguise of God’s protection, where the population languishes in the effects of bad governance. Church leaders teach congregants to submit to corrupt authorities. However, even common sense disallows mixing God’s will with corruption.
The congregants are generally hypnotized, as failing to evaluate for themselves, when viewing God’s will through the lenses of Bishops. True Christians are loyal to God, rather than to earthly Bishops.
Christians can independently discern God’s will, as directly connected to the Deity, rather than to anything of this world. It can only be a liar who frequently promises easy-going when applying God’s will on earth.
Applying God’s will was the only reason for which Jesus was crucified. It was the same reason that caused persecutions and killings of the early disciples. Nothing has changed, even in our time. There is no easy lifestyle for those engaging in true Christianity, regardless of what the charlatans say.
The most unpopular people are those doing the right things in a sinful environment. Hence, Jesus prescribed forsaking one’s relatives and own interests to follow Him. Paul aptly put it, in his letter to the Galatians.
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other so that you do not do what you want” (Galatians 5:16-17 NIV).
Bad things, in the environment, are caused by sinful people. Nothing comes without being caused. This is exactly what makes Christianity uncomfortable. There would be no evil in this world if Christianity was effectively applied. The apostle Paul lamented, desiring death instead of life:
“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 labor 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” (Philippians 1:21-25 NIV).
Paul’s desire to continue living was not for himself, but for those under his leadership. The most important question for Christians is: What makes them wish to continue living on earth? The red light reflects, on those desiring good living for themselves, under the circumstances.
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
Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com for $6.99