Too Often, We Confuse Means, Ends and Results

Tuesday’s Continuing Discussion 

(This continues a discussion that started in yesterday’s post. “Yesterday” being 10/30/2011.) I think there are two other problems associated with the good works that Christians are called to do in the world. On the one hand some see the good that we do, the injustices that we seek to address, the poverty we seek to alleviate, the children we try to rescue from abuse, as a means to the end of preaching the gospel. This is faulty thinking about the gospel.

On the other hand I sometimes hear people say something like this: “Meeting needs is not a means to an end, but an end in itself.” It think this is wrong too.

Let’s Not Be Empty Headed About This

I don’t think meeting needs is a means to an end or a final end in itself. I think we all have a tendency to confuse means, ends and results. The result of my new relationship with the Savior of the universe who came to seek and save the lost is go on mission with him to seek and save the lost. But it is also true that having seen and experienced the grace that reached me when I was not looking, I can’t help but seek to reach, and care, and love others who also may not be seeking.

I don’t feed the hungry, and clothe the naked, and heal the broken, and rescue the perishing as a means to preach the gospel. But I do all these things because I have been brought near to the greatest lover in the world. He has redeemed me and now I must, I cannot not love others. But that love will always, must always be accompanied with words.

One person may ask, “Why do we need words? Why do you always have to bring Jesus into the conversation? Why can’t you just let the deeds speak for themselves?”

Simply, because we want to live and emulate our Lord. Jesus came preaching the gospel of God “and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'” (Mark 1:14) 

Some will push back with, “Is God not bigger than our puny attempts to explain grace and love?” Most definitely yes, he is. But that doesn’t negate the need for the word of the gospel to be preached.

I can’t remember who it was who quoted the oft repeated, ‘Preach the gospel, if necessary use words.” The words are usually attributed to St. Francis. But the reality is that this quote is theologically wrong and historically inaccurate. There is zero evidence that St. Francis actually said the quote attributed to him and it is inconsistent with the model of how he and his order proclaimed the gospel.

Bottom line: A Christian is not just a “do gooder” or a “justice seeker.” A Christian is a gospeler, telling good news all the time AND living passionately for and like Jesus at the same time.


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