The key is in the significance of being a follower.

The significance of following is different from pursuing when tolerating cutting corners. A cheetah, while pursuing its prey, does not necessarily always have to consider the rigorous tracking of the footsteps of its prey. It seeks to outdo the foot-tracks, as long as it intends to access the catch for its feeding. Followers cannot be regarded as genuine when behaving like hunters. A principled follower is the one who meticulously ensures avoiding missteps.

Cutting corners disqualifies one from being a follower. The art of following can be observed in franchise business enterprises, around the world. In franchising, everything is done according to set standards, failure which, the franchise holder becomes a failure.

In technological innovations, it is impossible to produce acceptable results, even with the minutest alteration. To produce the same results, the duplication of the author ought to be technically applied. Failures are a result of disregarding the prescribed workable results from the author’s blueprint. During His mission on Earth, Jesus also highlighted this truism.

He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight. The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the Kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it” (Luke 16:15-16 NIV).

Can it be possible for anyone to force his way into God’s Kingdom? Among all humans, who doesn’t desire to be in God’s Kingdom? How accessible is God’s Kingdom, to anyone in this world, anyway? It takes a logical intellectual to appreciate the governing rules that have to be followed, for accessing the desired goal. Any vocation can be acquired by following the set procedures that codify the standards of the concerned profession. Nothing is achievable when failing to apply those rules.

“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore, Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my authority to take it up again. This command received from my Father” (John 10:1-18 NIV).

To unpack the above discourse, we have to first appreciate that Jesus was not necessarily targeting the Jews. Their problem was endemic to the entire humanity. In the previous Chapter, Jesus encountered a group of Jewish worshippers, unable to assimilate Jesus’ miraculous healing of a man born blind. Their major contention had been that the healing occurred on the Sabbath Day.

Tradition is identifiable as a stable datum governing any society. The human mind is disturbed, as long as the stable datum is violated. Before the white missionaries came, Africans’ stable datum had been ancestral worship. They maintained the belief that those having died would be spiritually alive. If the white missionaries encountered serious challenges in penetrating African traditions with Christianity, nothing could have been more daunting than ancestral worship.

Nevertheless, believers of ancestral spirits were more spiritually informed than Sabbath keepers, for instance. At least Africans believed in the spirituality of humanity. The only data that those ancestral worshipers lacked was the seniority of Jesus’ spirituality, more than the white missionaries’ warped traditions.

Those missionaries ought to have validated the stalwart African ancestral worship traditions, before revealing Jesus’ spirituality. This shows how the opportunity to advance the true gospel was missed. The white missionaries were not spiritually conversant, to address the spiritual conditions of ancestral worshipers.

To the Jews, Jesus had said the blind would perceive, while those assuming to perceive would be blind. The white missionaries had the Holy Bible at their disposal, but bearing the Jewish malady. They projected idolizing the Bible and the cross more than Jesus’ Spirituality. They assumed to see but were blind.

Their idolized Bible contained Jesus’ teachings, most of which they conveniently ignored. In other words, they purported to represent Jesus and yet mostly misrepresented Jesus. They sought to cut corners, rather than confront Jesus’ spirituality. They were unaware that the Jesus they represented identified with ancestral worshippers more than orthodox Christianity.

Jesus is spiritual, just as the ancestral worshippers considered their ancestors, spiritual. It might have been easier to advance the Spirituality of Jesus rather than advancing the cross. Those missionaries were stuck on the physical plane, rather than in spirituality—hence, failing to understand Jesus. The dichotomous condition of the material and spiritual is an obstacle to understanding.

The individual intellectual capabilities are found in his spiritual condition. Without fully understanding spirituality, a physical person cancels the consideration of spiritual existence. The Jews also idolized their ancestors—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. At one stage Jesus argued with some of them, who failed to appreciate the spirituality of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh.

“Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrections people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. “But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matthew 22:23-32 NIV).

The Sadducees had no clue of spirituality, transmitting the white missionaries’ failure to comprehend African ancestral beliefs. They claimed to be Abraham’s descendants, without understanding Abraham’s spirituality. They had Scriptures, and yet failed to understand spirituality, which traditional Africans understood, but lacking Biblical understanding.

From this conundrum can be observed that failure to understand spiritual matters emanates from physical attachment. This suggests humans have to apply Jesus’ teachings without necessarily evaluating them. This is good, but being the lowest gradient, designed for anyone to eventually access spiritual matters. If unsure of the spiritual mechanisms, just abide by Jesus’ teachings.

A follower does not necessarily have to reason. Any ardent follower is prone to be confused when blindly attempting to reason on Christian matters. The reasoning is based on Physical observations and life experiences. The physical life has limitations, whenever spiritual matters are discussed.

For instance, at the spiritual level sexual orientation bears a different connotation. Sexuality bears no significance to spiritual individuals, whose productivity is generated by creativity, rather than sexuality. Jesus intimated that understanding spirituality is dependent on obeying everything He taught.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (John 14:15-21 NIV).

The above Scripture cannot be comprehended by ordinary people. The world cannot accept Spiritual truth. Jesus said the disciples would know Him as God would also be with them. Such statements can’t reach ordinary people. I suppose, even the disciples, having not yet received the Holy Spirit, could not understand. Jesus was speaking in futuristic terms.

Physical scholars, unable to understand spiritual matters, cannot be followers, but pursuers after God’s Kingdom. In their endeavour, they aim at being logical, hence coming up with ideas like the “Trinity”. I suppose Jesus insinuated the existence of such characters: “…..Since that time, the good news of the Kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it” (Luke 16:16 NIV).

How dare those Trinitarian preachers separate those disciples from their assumed Holy Trinity equation? If Jesus promised to be with his disciples, together with His Father, how does the idea of the Trinity get constituted? Everything becomes a hotchpotch of confusion, similar to the Sadducees, who were stuck on sexual orientations, thereby failing to comprehend spirituality. It takes those who understand the principle of following, to appreciate such mysteries.

This contains an image of: Evan Ebenezer Ben

Let me hasten to say, that there is nothing wrong with failure to understand spiritual matters. What is wrong is assuming to know, when the opposite would be true, thereby, misleading multitudes into falsehoods. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. A person applying the principle of following cannot go wrong. This is different from those exercising zeal when desiring to acquire God’s Kingdom, but ignoring Jesus’ teachings, yet purporting to follow Him.

Those people behave like hyenas when pursuing their prey. Predators are not followers but after their prey. A follower would meticulously track the footprints of the trailblazer, without altering technical details against the Author’s blueprint. That is what wisdom entails when intending to avoid stupidity.

An uneducated person cannot attempt to come up with silly ideas trying to reinvent an existing smartphone. Changing formulas for anything else would not produce a better smartphone than the existing one. There has to be a completely different invention, to replace the current existing smartphone, than attempting to fidget with the current formulas.

This has to do with common sense. If any person assumes to have better ideas than Jesus’ originations, that person lives in a fool’s paradise. Interestingly, this world has provided laws against plagiarism. However, this does not seem to apply against those plagiarizing the teachings of Jesus. Is it because Jesus is assumed to be unaware, and unable to take action against such flagrant criminals?

Scriptures are replete with warnings against such perfunctory criminals. Jesus’ second coming is as certain as the anticipation of the rising sun tomorrow. Jesus affirmed the truth that only criminals avoid the gate when intending to steal. Unless a person is willing to confront the genuine, against the fake, deception remains a cause for concern, for sincere Christian believers.

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 who have 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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