the weblog of Alan Knox

When the end becomes the means

Posted by on Jun 13, 2008 in discipleship | 8 comments

As followers of Jesus Christ – Christians, if you will – we have one end, one goal; and that goal is God himself. He is our hope, our satisfaction, our peace, our joy… and so much more. Our life is in Christ; our service is through the Holy Spirit to God’s glory; our message is Jesus Christ, and him crucified, reconciling the word to God. God is our end, our goal.

When we seek God, he alone should be our goal. When we serve God, he alone should be our master. When we draw near to God, we should do so for the single purpose of God himself. He is our reward, our treasure, our portion, our inheritance.

So, why do I hear so much language lately that seems to indicate that God has ceased being our end, and instead seems to indicate that God is but a means to an end.

In evangelism, we do not seek God, but bigger numbers. In finances, we do not seek God, but bigger budgets. In planning, we do not seek God, but more efficient programs. In missions, we do not seek God, but more converts. In social actions, we do not seek God, but better communities. In discipleship, we do not seek God, but better people and relationships. We want God’s help and God’s blessing, but we desire more than God himself.

Don’t misunderstand me, as we seek God and understand who he is and spend time in his presence and walk in his Spirit, we often realize many of the “blessings” above. But, these must not be our goals. When we seek God and something else, we usually end up with neither. Seek God and God alone, and allow him to choose what’s best and good for us – even if that means fewer numbers, smaller budgets, less programs, less converts, failing communities, and broken relationships.


8 Comments

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  1. 6-13-2008

    Alan,

    You are right, and it is totally digusting. I think that all of these things that the institutional church has set as its goals go back to the prosperity movement. It seems to come down to the professional church trying to define itself by worldly standards.

    We’re suppose to be in the world but not of it. The institutional church has failed miserably. It seems to have slowly and subtly crept in and one day there it was.

    I think this topic falls very nicely into your blog post from yesterday concerning connecting the dots and making the picture what people want it to be instead of what God wants it to be.

    We are living in a day where Christians need to be in the Word daily to read and study. Because those who are not are sure to be deceived by the subtle carnality of modern day church doctrine.

    Blessings,
    Gary

  2. 6-13-2008

    Alan, it goes without saying I agree. I do have one question for you. You said, “When we seek God, he alone should be our goal. “

    But is that really true. Isn’t the community of faith, growing in unity, also the goal? I know this might just be semantics, but I am wondering… has not part of the error in American faith been to make our faith so individual that it ceases to be communal as well? Does this kind of phrasing help? What do you think?

  3. 6-13-2008

    A.W. Tozer in Pursuit of God said that our problem was we wanted “God and..” He argued that anything after the and was an idol and kept us from finding God.

    James

  4. 6-13-2008

    Tozer also said in ‘Knowledge of the Holy’ that an idol of the mind is just as offensive to God as an idol made by human hands. It seems to me that the institutional church and its traditons have become both an idol made by human hands and an idol of the mind.

    Chris

  5. 6-13-2008

    Gary,

    Yes, I’ve seen this in institutional churches, but I think its possible for any believers to begin seeking God as a means to other “blessings”.

    J.R.,

    Yes, we should work toward unity, community, etc. My concern in this post is “using” God to reach these “goals”. God is an end to himself.

    James,

    Yes, that quote from Tozer is exactly what I’m talking about in this post.

    Chris,

    Yes, there are different kinds of idols. We should seek God as opposed to either idols made by hands or idols of the mind.

    -Alan

  6. 6-15-2008

    So is church and community a means to the end, or is it also an end unto itself? Your thoughts?

  7. 6-15-2008

    J.R.,

    I would say that church and community is a means to an end – that end being God. Also, “church” is not really a means or an end, but an identification.

    -Alan

  8. 6-15-2008

    Thanks brother. I will definitely spend some time thinking on your post and answers.