Tuesday, November 29th. 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

“Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind—just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you—so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

 

There is a way of being in the world that is based on the idea that the end justifies the means.  While he certainly didn’t invent it, this way of being is often attributed to Machiavelli’s work, The Prince

 

“The end justifies the means” says that, if we believe our goal is honorable or just then it doesn’t matter if we have to behave dishonorably or unjustly to attain it.  Following this path leads us into all sorts of ingenious ways of explaining away otherwise unacceptable behavior.

 

“The end justifies the means” is the way that most of the world works.  It certainly is the way that power is most often exercised.  It is the rationale for war.  Back in the struggle for civil rights, using fire hoses and other violent means of attacking protesters was explained as necessary actions (means) to avoid greater riots and damage (a peaceful end.)

 

But there is another way of being in the world.  Over against “the ends justify the means”, Dr. Martin Luther King often pointed out that “the means participate in the ends.”  That is, achieving a peaceful society would require peaceful protest.  The “ends”, the vision of where we are going, is acted out on a daily basis on the way toward those ends.

 

This way of being in the world, recognizing that the ends participate in the means, is how the Apostle Paul both models and teaches the Christian faith.  He lives today in the hope of tomorrow.  He puts his life on the line for the sake of the message he carries because he knows not only that it is worth it but that is what it means to follow Jesus who did the same.  He encourages the Corinthians to live faithful, blameless lives, in anticipation of the day when they will be declared blameless by the grace of God, in the presence of God.

 

The end, fellowship with God eternally, is lived out today as we share fellowship with one another.  We love as we will be loved.  We forgive as we will be forgiven.  Knowing our future informs our present.  As Paul would later write, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, even as we begin our Advent waiting, fill us with a sense of where you are taking us, where we are going, that we might live out of that hope each day.  Forgive us for losing sight of you, for taking too much into our own hands, for the damage we cause to ourselves and others, for living out of fear. Help us live faithfully, blamelessly, honorably, until we see you face to face.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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