Having been the only Son of God, Jesus came and died on the cross, specifically, for the sins of humanity. He promised to come again, and receive, those taking His word seriously, to also, become God’s children. He will establish a Kingdom—being the opposite of the current one. The deceiver of humanity would have been banished, according to Revelation 20:2-3.
The resurrected Saints, will reign with Christ—after Satan’s banishment Revelation 20:4-6. The Saints, found to be alive, will be transfigured to join the resurrected ones (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). This assertion is further confirmed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:52.
Apparently, Jesus is concerned more with those having become God’s children, more than the rest of humanity. The called out ones, are expected to conduct their lives, differently from what is ordinary. What separates those from ordinary humans, is that they walk by the teachings of Christ.
In a nutshell, the popularly referred Sermon on the Mount, shows exactly, how such people are to conduct their lives (Matthew 5, 6 & 7). That Sermon reveals the benchmark—being the standard—applied according to His word. Failure which, a person would not be a Christian (Matthew 7:24-27).
What Jesus taught cannot be applicable to ordinary people. But, to those, having left everything to follow Him (Luke 14:25-33). The teachings were directed at individuals, rather than groups. A person deciding to follow Christ, does not have to consider, or seek approval from other group members. (Matthew 7:1-4).
That person is guided by Jesus’ teachings—whether agreeable or not agreeable to other group members. The person identifies with group members—only as Jesus is the common denominator. In Christianity, individual members take orders directly from Jesus—considered as the only authority.
This type of behavior was, actually, reiterated by Paul, in the whole chapter of Romans 14. The point being that those people are committed to abide, only, by Jesus’ teachings. Their deeds are virtually, different from world’s conducts.
How possible is this? Having surrendered everything, according to Luke 14:25-33, those people live, specifically, by Jesus’ words. They are spiritually equipped—which then convicts them to remain loyal to Jesus—regardless of hardships encountered in the process.
The following question stimulates them: “What is it that God wants me to do?” That person then becomes willing to do anything—having left everything to follow Christ, anyway. Nothing can separate him/her from the love of Christ. He/she becomes willing to die trying, than succumbing to failure. Such people commit themselves into doing God’s will only, rather than anything else.
Their lives resemble that of Jesus, and the early disciples. In other words, they are altruistic in behavior—committed to serving people, more than seeking to be served. The people naturally, find value in them, as their working standards are enhanced, according to the convictions of the Spirit.
No-one else determines how they serve people, except as the Spirit convicts them. They neither hold any profit motive—nor concerns about their own survival—except being used by God (Matthew 6:24-34). This is why they, actually, abandoned everything to follow Christ. People may not understand them. But God understands them, as long as they are used by Christ.
The way they conduct their lives is uncommon and uneasy. For instance, someone may have left a highly paying Job, to do things that appear pathetically despised. Another way of identifying them as Christians is inseparability. It is impossible for those people to separate from a Christian grouping, for whatever reason:
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:19-23) (ESV).
The apostle John implies that having truly accepted Christ as personal Savior, it becomes impossible for that person to depart from a Christian grouping. Whoever, departs, displays having not been part of that group, in the first place. But, departures are common among denominational groupings. We have to consider the underlying reasons.
Such departures are revealed as symptoms of improper Christian applications. Such improper applications infiltrated the Church, from time immemorial. This is because, the human authoritarian leaderships in Churches, obviously, nullify Jesus authority. Therefore, departures are caused by authoritarian leaderships. And not necessarily associated with the authority of Jesus Christ.
Jesus was quite clear on how His disciples—comprising Church groupings—were to behave. Those people were to act differently from the ordinary worldly assemblages. In Christianity, Jesus is given full authority, in everything.
“But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12) (ESV).
Commonly, the denominational institutions have humans assuming leadership responsibilities—in the form of pastors or Bishops. Apparently, this is possibly done out of ignorance of the existence of the above Scripture, and what Jesus also said in John 10:7-17. Whoever is used by Jesus, assumes the role of being a pastor, on Jesus’ behalf.
According to Matthew 23:8-12, no other person takes the role of leadership. There is nothing fanciful about being pastor—also delineated by Paul—among other Christian responsibilities (Ephesians 4:11). If a prophet, one is used by God and without God, that person cannot do anything (John 15:4-6).
The same applies, when used for any other responsibility (i.e. Pastor, Apostle, Evangelist and Teacher). The Spirit works through each and every Church member—and such functions are not, necessarily, limited in numbers. They are diverse and many, as applicable in Christianity.
Departures, suggest possible failure to apply Jesus’ teachings, among Christian denominations (Matthew 23:8-12. Someone may have assumed the overall leadership responsibility in a Christian Church—thereby having usurped Jesus’ authority. Jesus said no-one should be above others, in a Christian setting.
Surprisingly, it is the congregants themselves who seem to take comfort in having a leader above them—other than Christ? Yet, the common cause of leaving a Christian group—among those denominations is authoritarianism coming from such human leaders. The departing ones would have objected to wrong, or considered wrong teachings.
It could possibly be true that the purported leader would have advanced wrong teachings. Yet who could correct a leader, without inviting problems upon him/herself? Having taken leadership position, in that manner, implies being in the position of Christ. Correcting such a leader would be as absurd as trying to correct Jesus. But, putting that leader in the position of Christ is idolatry.
The phenomenon of such departures could not exist, if Jesus were to be given His rightful leadership position. This is why the apostle John said those leaving would not be Christians, after all (1 John 2:19-23). Those people leave—as not being associated with Christ, after all.
The person leaving would be protesting against the human leader and not against Christ, necessarily. The first Christian departure, recorded in history, after the apostles, was Martin Luther, from the Roman Catholic Church. Although, Martin Luther was excommunicated—not leaving of his own accord.
But, Martin Luther’s departure opened the floodgates for Protestantism. Those departing, did not understand that Jesus was the only leader in His Church. Those people assumed that it had been necessary to have authoritarian leadership, as Christ could not be seen physically. Just as those in leadership had, accordingly, assumed the authoritarian leadership positions.
Both viewpoints were erroneous. Those assuming leadership ought to have known that they were as common as everybody else. Just as those assuming it necessary to be led, ought to have taken responsibility to help those wrongly assuming authority over others.
Of course, under such conditions—when courageously standing by Jesus’ teachings—one could risk being victimized. But that is exactly the prize of Christianity. No-one should come into Christianity, expecting to be treated decently. Desiring to be treated courteously, is the opposite of what true Christianity implies.
All the wrongs in Christianity are a result of such weak characters comprising what prevails in Christian Churches. They assume that piety is what is necessary for one to be a Christian. Being viewed as good by others, rather than committing themselves to apply Jesus’ words. How could it be possible for Jesus to have problems with the Pharisees, if He had behaved like that?
Jesus indicated that those awarding themselves positions of being Shepherds, would be thieves (John 10:7-18). That implies interfering with God’s authority. Most of those holding Christian leadership positions are not even aware of this reality. See [Is there anyone greater than others in this world?].
Jesus established His Church—declaring that the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). There is no doubt that Jesus is aware of everything taking place in the Christian world. Others, actually, use Jesus’ name, unashamedly, for selfish gain (Matthew 24:5). But, if Christians were to look to Jesus, only, even schisms would become impossible.
Jesus is not surprised, even though His true servants get frustrated with what prevails. His Church is sustained, only by those courageously standing up for the truth. Actually, God’s Church cannot be disturbed, even though infiltrated by imposters. These will be sifted at Christ’s second-coming (Matthew 7:21-23).
Many people assume that Christianity, in its current confusion, represents everything taught by Jesus. Yet Jesus never instructed his followers to look to others—except looking to Him only. His followers are expected to abide by everything Jesus taught, rather than what others say.
Christian confusion is caused by imposing human leadership—yet only Jesus is supposed to superintend. But—lest I be misunderstood—there is leadership in Christian Churches—where Christ leads, using whoever—at any given time. Others hold different assignments, specifically, according to God’s design.
None is despised and none is adulated, among the congregants. The most important thing is that each should listen to the Spirit, more than listening to other people’s voices. It is good to listen to other people—as long as they might also be used by God—for whatever reasons. However, out of desiring to be seen to be good, most people listen more to what other people say, rather than what the Spirit convicts them to do.
When someone left everything to follow Christ that means allowing God’s will to prevail, in that person’s life. Being used by Christ in any other capacity, does not imply that a person would be superior over others. The person could be given a task that appears mammoth—according to human evaluations.
The task could require that the person dies—just as was the case with most of Jesus’ early disciples (John 21:19-22). Or it could require that the person goes through various other hardships, on behalf of Christ. Jesus never promised anything of comfort to those having accepted His calling.
Everything that Christ does—through any of His followers—is not, necessarily, designed to attract admiration. Those called by Him rejoice, only when insulted, rather than when people speak highly of them (Matthew 5:10-120). The apostles rejoiced—after receiving lashes for preaching the gospel—for instance (Acts 5:40-41).
The most important datum, is that Christ leads and acts, in individual Christians. Therefore, no-one should take glory, or despise others, whatsoever, for the things that Jesus does through those individuals. This is just as even the mockery that the person receives, would be mockery directed at Jesus.
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did to me” (Matthew 25:40)
Christ’s activities remain the same—as was the case during His time on earth—and also when He later used His individual followers. The world cannot recognize such people, in the same way that the world did not recognize Christ, when He walked on earth. Nothing has changed.
The saddest thing is that when Christ comes, most of the Christians would be rejected (Matthew 7:21-23). That rejection would be a result of allowing the other spirit—not associated with Christ—to dominate in their lives. There is, therefore, a need to be precise in applying Jesus’ teachings.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from 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 reliefs to those having witnessed 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.
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