Which is More Important: the Means Or the Ends?

“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”               Matthew 26:53-54

Over the last two years  many Christian evangelicals have rallied to defend actions and policies of our current president even though the man and his policies seem to contradict Scripture.  He cheated on three consecutive wives, his business dealings appear suspect at best, he advocated closing the borders to foreigners, he applauds dictators and criticizes allies, and he advocated for a tax bill that rewarded the rich at the expense of the poor.  None of that is biblical, but some evangelicals have willingly turned a blind eye because they are getting conservative judges appointed.  They seem to be saying, “The ends justify the means.  We can tolerate whatever he does as long as we get our judges.”

But that is not the biblical way.  Again and again in Scripture, we are called to live God’s way, no matter the cost.  The early Christian martyrs refused to deny Christ and so paid with their lives.  Wouldn’t being able to continue living justify saying those few words, “Caesar is Lord”?  After all, think how much good they could have done if they were alive?  And in the Old Testament, what about the poor guy who reached out to steady the Ark of the Covenant when it threatened to fall, only to be struck dead for violating God’s command not to touch the Ark?  No, God makes it clear that we are not to second guess the Lord.  Our job is to live faithfully, obeying God’s commands, and leave the outcome to God.

Nowhere is that made more clear than in Jesus’ death.  When he is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, he addresses one of his companions with the words above.  Surely as the Son of God, Jesus could have called down legions of angels to defeat the guards who arrested him, the Sanhedrin members who convicted him, or the Romans who crucified him.  But the end was not up to Jesus.  His calling was to live faithfully in relationship to his Father in Heaven, and trust God with the outcome.  We all know how the story comes out – Jesus is crucified and dies.  But on the third day, God raises him from the dead.  Jesus trusted God and in the end God honored that faith, just as the martyrs trusted God.

God does not ask us to achieve particular outcomes.  No, God calls us to live faithfully, following God’s way and trusting God to bring about the Lord’s desired end.  The reality is that these evangelicals are undermining our faith, telling those outside the church that everything Jesus taught about how to live is meaningless if we don’t get the outcome we want.  Why would anyone choose a faith like that?  It’s not mine.




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