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Permit me to chase down some thoughts with you.  If I need protein in my diet, I can eat meat, seafood, beans, eggs, nuts, and seeds (and perhaps some other things as well).  In other words, if I make protein consumption an ends, there are various means.  If I want liquids, I can drink water, milk, juices, wine, and other items; I can even be hooked up to an IV unit!!.  In other words, if I make the consumption of liquid an end, there are various optional means.  If I make physical pleasure an end, there are various means to accomplish that end.  If I want social interaction, there are various ways to accomplish that end.  If I want to increase my muscle tone, there are various ways or means to reach that end.

Once thinking in the terms of ends and means, let me move to a different aspect of living.  If I want to exist with God for eternity, are there various optional means?  If I want to experience peace of mind, are there various means I can employ?  If I want to have friends, are there various means to achieving that end?  Many people certainly think (rightly or wrongly) that the just mentioned ends have optional means.

When thinking in terms of ends and means, as the previous two paragraphs do, what parameters do we use to decide which means to select.  If we set protein consumption as an end, and recognize that there are various means to that end, on what basis do we select among the options of meat, nuts, sea food, eggs, etc., as our means of choice?  Some people would choose on the basis of taste.  Some people factor in the issue of allegories.  Other folk would factor in the issue of cost.

By now, I think the picture is somewhat obvious.  We have goals (ends) that we want to achieve.  And, we normally have some choices concerning the means to those ends.  That is simply a fact of life.  Some people have different goals / ends.  Some people use different means to get to the same ends.

But, here is where I am going with this line of thought.  Is Jesus a means to one of our chosen ends?  Does it make more sense to think of Jesus as an end, or even the ultimate end?

For most of us, we know how easy it is to treat other people as means to an end.  In this context, we sometimes see, hear, or use the expression “dehumanizing a person.”  Basically, the term refers to treating someone as a means to an end.  For most of us, “dehumanizing” someone is considered to be a pejorative behavior.  We don’t want anyone to dehumanize us.  In fact, we would say that such behavior is insulting.

Let me return to the issue of Jesus.  When he was alive on Earth, it was not uncommon that people would treat Jesus as a means to an end.  For example, some people saw Him as an effective mean to better health, a means to political freedom, a means to achieving power or position.  But, are those constructive views of Jesus?  No, they aren’t.

It may be the case that if I give my life to Jesus I will become part of a group of people who are more kind to me than the people with whom I have been associated.  I may have more honest people at my side if I give my life to Jesus.  If I give my life to Jesus, I might have mental peace that I have not previously known.  I may have people who will protect me from enemies, who may provide for me in times of financial crisis or want, who may care for me in times of sickness.  All of these “benefits” may be traced back to my being part of a particular group of people, with all of those people “belonging” to Jesus – solidarity coming to the foreground of our collective unity.  Let us never belittle those “benefits.”

BUT, at the same time, let’s also not reduce Jesus to a means to one of our ends. He IS the end.  When we are in Jesus, are with Jesus, abide in Jesus, there is no further step to take.  We are home.  We can’t get more home.

 

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