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  • Writer's pictureC. Kershaw

Ends and Means


PHIL 2:13

Essential to a walk of faith is the ability to love openly, speak wisely, and walk humbly in justice and truth.   Sometimes humanism seeps into my walk, subtly and stealthily.  One insidious way it intrudes is through the myth of the means justifying the ends.  This is not biblical truth or wisdom, but it’s a frequent modern motif.  The slaughter of millions of jews, the abrogation of slavery, the loss of countless innocent lives–all have been justified through this particular perspective.  Has it colored my particular Christian walk?  In one distinct area, I’m sorry to say, yes.

How so?  If I follow my Savior Jesus Christ, I’m called to pick up a cross and deny myself.  So why is it that when I speak the truth of God’s Word, with as much love as the Holy Spirit gives me, I judge my efficacy by what happens?  If the person I walk with hears my heart and is open to understanding, I believe things went well.  The end result was effective, so the means I used must have been right.  When others do not hear my heart, judge me harshly, disrespect my views, and turn away from my Savior, I’m sure I’ve blown it.  I must not have listened to God’s voice. If the end result is rejection, my simple mind runs a calculation. I screwed up the way I  communicated the grace of Jesus Christ.  If I had done it right, others would be attracted to it. This rabbit trail then winds into my motive. Is it audacious or arrogant to share biblical truth? Who do I think I am anyway?

Then I remember Jesus’ model.  The western myth of Jesus as a wildly popular, charismatic speaker everyone loved has tainted me.  The Gospels do not teach this–they tell us about the Incarnate God who often barely escaped execution, who inspired anger and angst, and who was “despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3).  Jesus honked so many people off that they ultimately killed him for it.  Crucifixion involved the utmost in physical pain and personal humiliation.  

Jesus’ means landed him in a hot mess on the cross, that paid for my own hot messes.  When I open my mouth after praying for wisdom, seeking His will, and trusting His presence, I have to remember my words should be judged by His standards and not my own.  This servant will not be treated differently than her Master was. 

When I sincerely obey Him, I may still screw things up. My humanity has a way of pushing in.  Yet, in a faith walk, what happens immediately is not evidence we can use to judge the wisdom of our actions. God is the only Righteous Judge.

God brings beauty from all kinds of ashes, and suffering for speaking the truth is not the end of the story. Sunday is coming.

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