Our True Family

46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.

47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.

48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?

49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. Mat. 12:46-50

This is a tough one. It is a very, very tough one. In a sense, probably the toughest of all of Jesus’s lessons.

In a nutshell, there can be no emotional attachments in God’s Kingdom, only spiritual ones. There could be no greater emotional attachment than the familial one; and here Jesus discards it. We are to seek after spiritual relationships. The Bible says that God is Spirit. There can therefore be no other relationships acceptable to Him other than a spiritual one.

The church may not be perfect, but it is the Body of Jesus Christ! And where else, aside from this congregation of mostly imperfect men and women can we grow to know the will of our Father in heaven? No, there is nowhere else. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are our true family.

Yes, Peter still had a sword hidden in his inner robe, and we can imagine his thoughts were not so peaceful nor holy. Equally fierce and furious were James and John, who also harbored Napoleonic thoughts of conquering the world.

But, incredibly, Jesus  elevated these people above his earthly brothers, sisters and mother. He called them His family!

There are people who will value their flesh and blood kin over members of the Body of Christ. There are others who approve of people for various other reasons other than purely spiritual ones. But that attests to their inability to see in the Spirit. For when we see in the Spirit, we realize how truly valuable brethren in Christ are and how high our relating to them towers above earthly relationships, however close; and however weak our brethren in Christ may be.

It is best – before it gets too late and we come to realize the vanity of it all – that we as God’s children align ourselves fully with the church and stop appeasing other relationships, however important they might appear. There is a price to pay there; but, again, the gospel is all about paying the price.

God will give us grace and it is not as if we will stop loving our kith and kin in the flesh. Jesus Himself no doubt thought constantly and prayed for His family, a fact that is born out in John 19:25-27:

“25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”

But, right to the very end, as we see here, Jesus’s thoughts about his mother and siblings were spiritual, not otherwise. His love for them was not emotional, but spiritual. In the end, through Jesus’s pursuit of only the spiritual, they, too, came to an understanding of the treasure that is God’s Kingdom. In the end, He bequeathed to them the true riches, heavenly ones.

[Powerful clip. Please go to “Settings”, click “Subtitles” for the English subtitles to appear]

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‘Unfriending’ God

14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. Lk. 16:14-15

I am pretty sure that when we get to heaven, there are many, many things that will surprise and probably shock us. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people were to faint right off and have to be resurrected twice – if that option is there. If you don’t read the Bible carefully while you are down here on earth, it is a given that you could find yourself in a very regrettable position when you get to heaven.

People will be shocked, but it is not because the Lord did not inform or warn us of these things. It is because we have hard hearts, and the revelation of God cannot penetrate our spiritual consciousness.

When they read Jesus’ words in the above scripture, for example, many believers, upon reading these words, think that Jesus was referring to the world. They therefore waste the precious opportunity to look into their own state and instead point fingers at the world. But the church, of which Jesus is the Head, has absolutely no business with the world except to preach it the Good News of salvation. We cannot talk of the world in church. A preacher cannot, for example, waste a whole sermon talking about the great king of pop, Jacko the Wacko in church and claim he is preaching the gospel. He could mention the man in passing, but the king of pop could never become the subject of a church sermon.

Jesus could not, therefore, have been addressing the world when He spoke these words. Jesus was addressing the church. Indeed, we find that here He was addressing the Pharisees, who were the bona fide ‘church’ of that time. It is in this regard that we need to understand also that the Bible is a spiritual Book, and it is written to spiritual people – believers, the church. The Bible is not written to the world for the Bible is scripted in spiritual language, and the world does not understand spiritual language. That is why even a born-again believer, if he does not have a spiritual mindset, cannot understand the Bible. By spiritual mindset I mean the desire, thirst or hunger for the things of the Spirit. There are believers, for example, who seek for material gain in the Bible. Such people cannot understand the spiritual gist of the Bible.

Having therefore established that Jesus was addressing these words to the church, it is imperative that the church WAKE UP!! What is going on in church today is shocking beyond belief. Today the church is nurturing the most obnoxious strain of people on earth!

Who are these people? They are the worldly-minded preachers. The church is coddling and holding in high esteem men (and women) who preach and live any kinds of gospels other than the true gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the cross.

Today the most vociferous, the most televised, and the most revered preachers today are men whose lives are not desirable to the Lord. Most are lovers of money. And they are lovers of many other things that are not of God. But when men justify themselves before men, it is easy for men who have no revelation to follow them.

What does it mean to “justify yourselves before men”?

A preacher who has no revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ in his heart cannot preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. On the contrary, he will preach a gospel in which he justifies his own ways. The Pharisees, for example, were lovers of money, and they preached things that justified their covetousness. They went to the extent of teaching that whatever financial help one should have given to his parents, he could put into the church coffers instead – and that he would be “blessed”.

That is what the Bible means by “justify yourselves before men”. It means that men preach whatever justifies their own lusts.

In our country I heard of a preacher whose ‘ministry’ is to “comfort” widows. He “comforts” widows by sleeping with them. But he uses scripture to carry out his diabolical ‘ministry’.

But where the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ is preached, such people will never be allowed to see the light of day. There is simply no place for them in the true church! The gospel of the cross reveals and confronts the evil in our hearts. The preacher who has the revelation of the cross in his heart is the only person who can usher people into the Kingdom of God.

The Pharisees had just heard Jesus say, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon”; and because they loved money, the Bible says they “derided”, or mocked, Jesus.

One of the truest signs that you are a man or woman who is not going to heaven is when you find yourself deriding the message of the cross of Jesus Christ. How do you ‘deride’ Jesus, or His message? It is when you find yourself being a ‘fan’ or follower of a gospel other than the gospel of the cross. It is when you cannot deny yourself. The message of the cross is the true message of the road to eternal life. It is the message that the apostles preached, and it is the message of which God commissioned the Apostle Paul to write more than half the New Testament about. It is also the message that righteous men and women throughout the ages have suffered terribly on account of.

Finally, Jesus declared:

“… for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”

What does that mean? Lacking the capacity to deny himself, a preacher who does not take up his cross and follow Christ will bring up a doctrine that will draw people to him in order that he might gain in the flesh. He might be seeking after fame, or financial gain. There are many things that a preacher in the flesh could be seeking after.

Jesus’ words here are a shot across the bows, so to speak. Such a preacher cannot please God. God hates preachers who would draw men to themselves. If we are to please God, it can only be if we are to follow Christ’s doctrine as laid out in Matthew 16:24:

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

He who teaches and lives such doctrine is the true friend of God.

[Below: Here, no doubt, the writer meant “No love, no stress”! In Tanzania, as probably in other countries, truck drivers write out their frustrations on the back of their trucks]

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God and the Heart of Man

Better a little that is done from the heart than much that is not done from the heart. God loves things that are done from the heart. God is a person of the heart. In fact, the Bible says that God looks upon the heart. By the heart I mean that inner desire and joy that can only be born of God. Whatever we do from this kind of heart is very precious in the sight of God.

Not only that, but these are the things that are of true value to us and to our fellow humans. They are the things that make an impact in people’s lives. They are the things that bring about real change.

A nation, for example, whose leader leads the nation from his heart, that nation will prosper because it is built on a strong foundation. Our nation’s founding father, “Mwalimu” Julius Nyerere, built this nation on a strong foundation of unity. The great sense of internal peace that we enjoy in Tanzania today is a result of “Mwalimu”’s heart. He led this nation from the heart, and we are enjoying the fruits of his heart.

On the contrary, a nation that is not led from the heart cannot prosper. A nation that is led by the clout of money, charisma and other external bases will slowly deteriorate and perish. Much of the time, where money and power are involved, there is no heart. One of the greatest weaknesses of the natural man is the inability to conquer power and money.

I believe that is why God did not commit His Kingdom to the rich and powerful men and women of this world. The Bible tells us that God committed His calling to the poor, the downtrodden and the foolish of this world. Literally.

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

In the developed world, I hear there are people who are so rich that when they enter a shop and need to make some purchases, no one else is allowed in. They are allowed to shop privately. Such people may be rich, but theirs is a sorry form of richness for it is selfish and temporal. What a joy would it be for them to discover the true riches of serving God and their fellow man with their wealth!

In the church also, money and power corrupt men’s hearts. They fill them with pride and they cannot give God the glory. They take up the glory instead. On the contrary, a weak and poor man will quickly and easily give God the glory.

The true gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the cross, however, gives us all the opportunity to allow God to deal with the flesh in order that we might serve God from the heart. Both the poor and the rich can benefit from this gospel. Both can learn to serve God from the heart, and not to trust in uncertain riches. No wonder Paul says in Galatians 3:28:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

What does it mean to be a Jew as we read in the above scripture? Apart from the literal meaning of the Jew (an Israelite), there is the connotation of a ‘Jew’ being a believer who knows many things about God or who deems himself close to God. But you could be a Jew in either sense of the word and not serve God from the heart. If you do not serve God from the heart, your knowledge or perceived closeness to God will neither endear you to God nor will it bear any fruit in the Spirit.

A true believer ought therefore be a person of the heart. If we do things to please men, that is hypocrisy. In our relationships, for example, we ought to be clear and not fear or despise others. God hates both these things – fear and despising of others – for He is a righteous God. In any case, nothing that we do to please men is born of God.  There are many things that we as believers do, believing that they are spiritual, but which are not. They are not spiritual because we do them with an eye to pleasing men. Such things are not born of God. Moreover, they are temporal and superficial.

(A strong and lasting structure must be born of the heart)

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