Cliché Five: There is no End Goal to the Christian Life

Continuing our series on Church Clichés, for an explanation on why we are doing this series please read it here:

Series: Against Common Christian Clichés

Link to Podcast for this episode: https://castbox.fm/episode/Cliche-Five:-There-is-no-End-Goal-in-Christian-Life-id2800003-id267440650?utm_source=edm

 

Description:

This cliché tends to come out when discussing growth and discipleship. Its the idea that we are called to grow in general in scripture but there is not an end thing we are supposed to reach to in this life. We have been talking to leaders at a church and it was said explicitly that there is not X we are supposed to get to, we are just meant to go forward in general. Becoming like Jesus is seen as such an unrealistic goal because of who Jesus is. It is seen as unspiritual and even semi-blasphemous in some people’s minds to talk about it, yet that is just what scripture seems to call us to.

 

Four Views

I think here it is helpful to take a look at a few views present in Christianity that have a different idea of what the end goal.

  1. The Sacramental View:
    • Those who hold this view believe that we are supposed to become more and more holy through taking part in various sacraments. Sacraments are physical ways of participating in drawing near to God, usually specific things prescribed to the church like Baptism, Communion, a blessing from a pastor/priest etc. This view is good because it recognizes the often-repeated command in scripture that we are called to be holy as He is holy. However, it falls short of the full scriptural picture.
  2. The Typical Evangelical View:
    • There are two variations of the typical evangelical view:
      1. There is only a beginning.
        • This view only accepts that there is a definite beginning to the Christian life. As expressed in Romans 10:9-10 we are commanded to believe in Jesus and to confess Him as Lord. After that there is just a lot of fuzziness mainly.
      2. The second view is what I would call “setting the foundation”.
        • The second view is what I would call “setting the foundation”. This view holds that while there is a definite beginning there are also some foundational things every Christian should learn. This view is popular among a lot of campus ministries and some churches where new believers should go through a series on who God is, the trinity etc. after belief.
    • I think both of these views are good in that they recognize we need to make a definite commitment to Jesus (John 5:24, Romans 10:9-10). For the second one it is also true there are some basics in the faith that are very important and should be learned by all. The Biblical view seems to go further than this though and point to the overall overarching goal of being like Jesus but after the foundation is set the typical evangelical reaction is pretty fuzzy.
  3. The Liberal View:
    • This view is typically summed up in the statement “be the best you, you can be!” Usually this view is expressed in western classroom posters. Typically, Jesus is seen as a great example in caring for others and in allowing for diversity etc. The good part of this view is it really sees Jesus as an example while the others a lot of time have a hard time of seeing this as realistic, however this view typically leaves a lot out as far as Jesus being God and our Lord. It also typically is light on Jesus’ commandments concerning the Word and Evangelism.
  4. Our view
    • Our view, and what we believe is the Biblical view, is that we are called to be like Jesus. Just about all of the New Testament authors say this explicitly:
    • 1 Peter 2:21

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

1 John 2:6  

Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

2 Corinthians 3:18 

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Matthew 5:48 

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    • We are called to individually be like Jesus in all of His communicable attributes or in all the ways in which He is not directly God. We are called to be holy like Him, called to have a character like His, called to have a heart for others as He did helping them to know Him, called to love God like He did etc.

 

God is not an Unrealistic, Mean or Crazy Boss

Anne brought up the parable of the talents here (Matt: 25:14-30). What was so evil about the evil servant, he just seemed to be looking out for himself and didn’t steal or anything? The fact is the servant saw his master as either unrealistic, mean or simply crazy and so he didn’t try to obey him. We often have one of these mixed into our view of God as well when we ignore the end goal He set. If God said that we should be like Jesus was He being unrealistic and not considering our state? Unrealistic would mean God set a goal that is impossible to be completely met just being a perfectionist and not realizing the means to achieve the goal. Mean would be He meant to set it too high so that we would fail. If crazy, then the goal would just be unrelated to the task. Yet God is none of these things and its Him who has empowered us with His Holy Spirit and set the task of becoming like His Son before us.

 

Conclusion:

We are called to be like Jesus. Unless we accept the end goal in all of its bigness, we will never make progress toward it. God is faithful who assigned us this goal. If we insert a cliché in place of God’s clear command it won’t help us, it will only keep us further from the good God who has rescued us from sin and death. Let’s follow Paul and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:14b)

 

 

 

1 thought on “Cliché Five: There is no End Goal to the Christian Life

  1. Pingback: Cliché Series Reference Post – Enter the Abiding Life

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