The role of believers in this world.

The greatest confusion with humanity is not being aware that the “I am” is different from the physical nature. Mistaken for the physical body, humans assume being incapacitated. While necessary for humans to be in physical bodies, the heavenly bodies are more effective and significant. The aim ought to be renouncing the physical body to obtain the spiritual or celestial bodies.

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Corinthians 2:1-4 NIV).

Paul indicates the possibility of deception with humanity, where the acceptance of repentance, makes one assume having attained salvation. Who is this lawless man that Paul talks about? A believer ought to know what he/she is up against, to be assured of being in the right direction.

This could be contextualized as referring to authoritarian power, regarded with honour in this world. But, God’s temple is the physical body of a believer, who assumes having already achieved salvation. It is easy to exalt oneself, for anyone who would have attained superior knowledge ahead of others. Paul revealed that he kept himself conscious of that possibility.

“Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:6-10 NIV).

Paul was speaking as one consciously vulnerable to the man of sin. Hence he took delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions and in difficulties. Paul had discovered that he was spiritually stronger in physical weaknesses. The revelations that Paul had acquired could have caused him to be elevated to God’s position.

Those of this world get easily fascinated by anyone with knowledge. In their ignorance, people are susceptible to worship those with knowledge, observed as surpassing everyone else. Potentially, every human being has Godly power. But that power should not excite anyone to accept adulation from fellow humans. The man of sin feels good when praised by fellow humans.

Interestingly, when Jesus was here, He never entertained being exalted. With the knowledge that He wielded, Jesus could have attracted being worshipped by the Jews, in particular. Nevertheless, Jesus knew that the man of sin needed to be subjected to the cross.

Instead of anticipating the man of sin coming from elsewhere, believers ought to appreciate that they are vulnerable to being subjected to that condition. The starting point is appreciating the difference between physical and spiritual personalities. The two are diametrically opposites. The danger lies in confusing one for the other, in one’s existence.

Spiritual knowledge does not entitle anyone to assume being better than others in this world. At the same time, a person with Spiritual knowledge does not behave similarly to those of this world. A Spiritual person has a specific role to play, which those of this world might not even be aware of. Otherwise, there is no other reason for a Spiritual person to exist in a sinful body.

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile, we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5 NIV).

When God dwells in a believer, this does not entitle him/her to exalt himself, so that he can be worshipped by others. However, unless the man of sin, in the same believer is revealed, he/she remains vulnerable to exaltation, as described in 2 Corinthians 2:1-4.

“Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God” (1 Corinthians 8:1-3 NIV).

If one is a true believer, one cannot be popular in this world. There is no need to seek to be known or recognized by anyone in this world. The knowledge that Paul says puffs up; tends to make one crave exaltation by other people.

The question ought to be how one can help ignorant people to understand, rather than display being better than them. Paul walked with the weak, as though weak, himself; identifying with the weak, rather than as one with knowledge. That is what being a believer entails.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:6-10 NIV).

 For a believer, the physical body is a borrowed tent. For him/her, it is no longer necessary to exist physically. One cannot assume being not of this world and still enjoy being of this world. And one cannot assume being of this world, but still, imagine being of heaven.

The most significant factor is the awareness of the existence of a man of sin. But, having been granted with the deposit of Godly nature, the most dangerous thing is manifesting one’s greatness. Nevertheless, there is no question about Godly things being greater.

There are two special reasons for a believer, with the Spiritual deposit, to remain in the physical body. The first is to be of service to others. There is no substitute for service, for God’s children. The second is to expose and destroy the man of sin in the believer.

“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are allowing you to take pride in us so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are ‘out of our mind,’ as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:11-15 NIV).

Paul’s wish was to pass knowledge to his followers. He yearned that they ought to have similarly understood how he, himself, understood Godly things. He sought to persuade them to understand God’s power, not via physical humans, necessarily. Generally, it is not for those of this world to know God’s secret things, but for the converted believers.

In this world, we are used to rejoicing and appreciating being commended for doing kindly acts. But, having received the Spiritual deposit, the most prudent thing is to rejoice, only when being treated badly, for those kindly acts. That is the only thing that should make believers happy, in this world.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12 NIV).

Rejoicing when insulted and persecuted cannot be regarded as normal in this world. Paul infers to it as being interpreted as reflecting one being out of one’s mind. It is not normal for those of this world to rejoice when being insulted or persecuted. To them, what is normal is to rejoice, only when being showered with praises.

Paul succinctly provided the significant role of believers, in this world. He was addressing those freed from the bondage of sin. Such people are no longer scared of dying. For them, living in this world is no longer anything to yearn for, as appreciating what eternity entails.

“So from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:16-21 NIV).

The interesting aspect is that of regarding Christ from a worldly point of view. “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer” (Verse 16). A believer no longer regards Christ from a worldly point of view. He/she now regards Christ, as a compatriot, or a brother.

Paul states that the old has gone and the new has come when referring to the state of having received Godly nature. This happens to be the nature that the person was created to become. When God reconciled a believer to Himself, that person is no longer different from God. He/she thinks like God in every aspect of his/her life.

However, that does not end there, as long as surviving in a physical body. That person duplicates what Jesus did, for his fellow men. There is no way a believer can attain God’s righteousness, without behaving like Jesus, on earth. A believer is a manifestation of Jesus.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:16-17 NIV).

God could not have called a believer to himself, for the same believer to continue living selfishly. The Spiritual deposit impels the same believer to do exactly what God expects of him/her at any given time. It cannot be a believer’s duty to be found condemning those that Jesus did not condemn. A believer guards against conceit, but, at the same time, is aware of his spiritual responsibility.

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.

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