Jesus Christ brought the gospel, which means good news for humanity. But such good news is bad news to the suppressive ones, who are not comfortable with the deliverance of ordinary humans. At the time of Jesus, such people comprised the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. The only sad reality is that the suppressive people are not aware of their propensity to be suppressive.
The suppressive people carry the responsibility in setting standards and conditions of conducting lives in this world. In simple terms, the suppressive people can be regarded as authoritarians. While it is easy to speculate that such authoritarians are necessary to maintain order, they are the cause of all problems of humanity. The authoritarians comprise parents, teachers, Pastors in Christianity and various other institutions.
Let me be quick to say that it is the authoritarians who are given credit for anything good in the environment. But, those authoritarians also share the blame on everything unacceptable in the environment. Their authoritarian behavior sustains what currently prevails in the world, so that the net effect is blameworthy, rather than credit in their favor. Law-keeping and punishment, while considered as necessary for things to go well, have failed humanity.
In actual fact, there is no record of any civilization that ever brought acceptable conditions through the administration of law-keeping and punishment. The Israelites were, probably, the only nation that had the divine law at their disposal. The Israelites could have been the best example of producing the best effects of law-keeping. But, the most unacceptable record available of those law-keepers is that they murdered Jesus—though being their Messiah.
Therefore, the only negative side of law-keeping and punishment is that it facilitated the murder of Jesus Christ. If those people fully understood the significance of law-keeping, they would not have done such an abominable thing as to murder their Messiah. This reveals that as long as Law-keeping is administered by imperfect humans, it produces negative results.
There is no doubt about God’s law being perfect. But there is doubt about those administering Law-keeping and punishment being perfect. The basic standard of human civilization should emanate from good parenting. But where, in the world, have we ever had a thing called good parenting? It does not matter how strict the parents could be, the record is there to prove the net effect, as in bad parenting.
Good people, assumed as having obtained best influence from their parents, can be pointed at. But a lot is left to be desired of those, as unable to change the toxic environment. The reason why parents fail in raising best children according to known perfect laws is that parents are imperfect.
Church pastors are considered good. But, only on rare occasions do we find church leaders being models of good parenting. Those church pastors are not the perfect models on the subject of parenting. The net effect of what prevails in this world manifests the least of what can be credited to them. The biggest challenge of the authoritarians is that they cannot regard themselves as suppressive.
The more they think they are good, the more deranged they become. That was exactly the challenge faced by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, in times of Jesus. The more they tried to become perfect through law-keeping the more astray they went. They unknowingly despised the value of Jesus. They focused on the negative side of Law-keeping and punishment, more than looking at the positive side of Law-keeping and punishment.
Their behavior had been designed to sustain the conditions of this imperfect world. What goes against authoritarianism are the statistical results. Has this world ever experienced peace through the administration of Law-keeping and punishment? If the answer is negative, why should we continue to entertain the idea that authoritarianism is necessary to stabilize the world?
The things observed combine the unacceptable juvenile delinquency, the filthy sexual conducts, gruesome murders in diverse places, to name but a few abominable crimes. Authoritarians are to blame, as responsible for things prevailing in the environment. Those committing crimes represent the effects of what this world offers, in terms of the net effects, against acceptable norms.
Punishment involves incarceration in prisons for wrong-doers. But, statistically, prison conditions have not brought changes in the behavior of many criminals. Hard-core criminals are known to brag about having been in prison for many times. Moreover, it is not a secret that many people serve prison sentences for crimes they never committed. Justifiably, it ought to be the judges who deserve being in jail for wrongly incarcerating people in prison.
Errors emanating from well-intentioned processes of administering justice could be fewer than the corruptly administered justice. It has become the norm, in countries like Zimbabwe, that a criminal is as free as able to bribe the law-enforcement agencies. While such corruption can be in the grandeur scale in Zimbabwe, it portrays the evil justice system encompassing the entire world.
There is nothing good that can be found in this world. This is why even the newsmen have to highlight bad news, to remain in business. It is only the bad news that rhymes with this corrupt society. Those reporting good news can be extremely unpopular. As the first man ever to herald the good news—Jesus—was gruesomely murdered. The same punishment was meted to His early disciples, according to Scriptural records.
Nevertheless, while this happened, the good news that cannot be erased is that Jesus is alive. The murder, effected on Him, did not carry significance. The works of Jesus continue, unabated. The madness, facilitated by the authoritarians of our time, will eventually be subdued. The idea of punishment, in order to curtail evil conduct, is unsustainable. This is why it is necessary to pay attention to the significance of the gospel of Jesus.
That gospel highlights two philosophies that are contradictory to each other—self-centeredness as opposed to altruism. Self-centeredness carries the idea that goodness implies receiving, rather than giving. Obsession with the ‘get’ philosophy is what causes the gospel to be unpopular with most people. Self-centeredness seeks to prejudice another person, for one’s own survival. In its maximum capacity, self-centeredness can be observed in wars that envelope the entire world.
The most popular churches are premised on self-centered philosophy. Nothing appears as wrong, when in need of blessings. But the story does not end there, as the other person also needs blessings. For instance, if I lose my purse with a thousand dollars, I would feel aggrieved. But the person who would have picked up that purse would feel blessed, when in possession of a thousand dollars that he never worked for.
Such behavior is different from an altruistic mindset. The person who picks up the purse with a thousand dollars takes the obligation to find who the owner would be. He is seized with the responsibility to find the person who lost the purse, more than he himself would be in need of money. He might not be able to locate the person, immediately.
But an altruistic person still feels uncomfortable to then convert that money for his own use. He knows how it feels to be in the predicament of losing money—hence making an effort to locate the owner of the purse. The person would not be doing this under the influence of authoritarians. This is a self-willed behavior. Just as it was beautifully projected by Jesus when delivering the Good Samaritan parable (Luke 10:25-37).
The choice of a Good Samaritan, as the main character in that illustration, rather than a Good Jew, carries some bearing. The Samaritans comprised part of the nation of Israel—having been vanquished, as to eventually lose their identity. They had lost touch with Law-keeping—unlike the Jewish remnants who, at least, held the canonical Scriptures.
The civility of the Good Samaritan had not been influenced by law-keeping, necessarily. It came from his heart, out of a desire to grant relief to a fellow human, in distressful condition. The Jews and the Samaritans had grown to be unfriendly to each other, due to law-keeping. The conduct of that Good Samaritan had not been motivated by what he would get from the injured person.
His personality outlook might also not have been dignified, according to the viewpoint of authoritarians. What he did had no consideration for propitiation with God, in order to receive blessings and deliverance. Yet what the Good Samaritan did was senior to authoritarianism, including law-keeping and punishment. The background of the parable is that an expert in law had asked Jesus what was necessary to inherit God’s Kingdom.
At the end of that parable, Jesus advised the lawyer to apply the behavior of the God Samaritan. This leaves the authoritarians without any justification for their existence. They claim to have been put in leadership by Jesus, yet unable to point at any single scripture, showing that they are supposed to be superintending over other believers. The clear teachings of Jesus are totally ignored.
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12) (NIV).
We have just confirmed that the purpose of authoritarians in this world is to sustain everything bad about this civilization. But there are those who feel there is nothing wrong with the current civilization. Those can only be the people who benefit immensely from this civilization. To them, the success of the poor people threatens their dominance over them, including being deprived of their corruptly acquired wealth.
They feel frightened to imagine the appraisal of people they would have all along despised. To observe such people rising up to be equated with their status is as frightening as any danger appearing on the horizon. But the promotion of the poor is a dream confirming equality, as those authoritarians are not superior to them, after all. Apparently, Scriptural references show that Jesus castigated authoritarians more, in His teachings, as scattered across the four gospel books:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord.’ Will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he 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 perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23) (NIV).
Everything taught by Jesus cannot be associated with the authoritarians of His time and those of our time. Everything that Jesus taught was as unpopular as this article can be found to be unpopular by most readers, even in our time. The only way anything can be tested whether good or evil, is the potential number of people likely to benefit from its implementation. The principle of authoritarianism cannot be right, as benefitting only the privileged few.
The majority, considered as servants, are viewed as not having the right to enjoy beneficial privileges. Although under slavery, the majority are the ones to whom the gospel is directed. Some of them may prefer being on the side of those oppressing them. But the gospel aims at their deliverance from oppressors. The authoritarians make it difficult for ordinary people to access the gospel. Those sincere in acquiring knowledge about God’s Kingdom, have got to look elsewhere:
“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to the little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’” (Luke 10:21-22) (NIV).
The answer to what is good about the gospel, lies in appreciating the value of altruism, as compared to self-centeredness. Anyone is blessed indeed, as long as appreciating the responsibility to disseminate the gospel of Jesus—seeking to deliver humanity from current trappings. My small contribution is to share this reality with those, whose responsibility is to spread the gospel far and wide.
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
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