The government shutdown drags on. Some 800,000 government employees are either working without pay or are furloughed. 800,000 people are having their lives changed through no fault of their own. Actually the number is bigger when you consider spouses and children of these employees. The number gets bigger when you take into account the financial impact 800,000 people not receiving a pay check has beyond their own bank accounts.
I heard a story on the radio about the numerous private companies that contract with the government to do work – they aren’t getting paid either, but their situation is worse – there will be no back pay for these folks.
And when the ripple effect if fully felt, the businesses that the employees of contractors and government employees go to and spend money at are hurting also.
The ripple effect goes far beyond that though.
The people who suffer the most are the poor. They usually are the ones who end up getting the shaft when there is a debate about money and how it is spent. Their voices are often silenced or ignored.
That’s what happens when the operating theology and philosophy is defined as the ends justify the means. When the ends justify the means is the guiding principle of decision-making, then people become commodities and collateral – pawns to be used to get to the end desired. When the ends justify the means is the belief system for making decisions – whether pertaining to government, religion, business, sports, or anything else – then people are transformed into a statistic or a weapon to be used to obtain the desired end.
The ends justify the means dehumanizes people. It looks to Social Darwinism as a model. It believes in might makes right and that the strong survive. It silences democratic means of making decisions in favor of winning at all costs.
The ends justify the means is antithetical to Christ and Christianity. The ends justify the means isn’t an official heresy of the church, but it should be considered as heresy. It is not compatible with Christ – it is in direct opposition to Christ.
Christ didn’t directly reject this theology – he didn’t say the words. But everything about Christ rejects the idea of the ends justifying the means. Christ rejects the theology of the ends justifying the means when he went to the cross. He rejected this heresy in his parables. He rejected this heresy in his call to discipleship. He rejected this theology in every aspect of his life and being.
In Matthew 25:31-46 we hear what Jesus values – feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, visiting the sick and imprisoned. These are not the strong. These are not the mighty. These are the poor and outcast, those without power. These are the people who are a drain to those who care about the ends justifying the means. These are the people who are in the way to those who embrace the ends justifying the means. These are the people who suffer when there is an impasse to economic decisions.
If we were to re-write Matthew 25:31-46 to capture the theology of the ends justifying the means, it might sound something like this:
Jesus said: “I was hungry and you told me to lose weight. I was thirsty and you told me go buy water. I was naked and you told me there were clothing rooms around and to stop being lazy – get a job. I was a stranger and you told me to get out of your country. I was sick and you told me I should only get the health care I could afford. I was in prison and you told me I deserved to be there.”
As long as the ends justify the means is our operating theology and foundation, our nation will become poorer, the poor will suffer, we will continue to reject Christ and suffer the consequences of that rejection. The ends justify the means is ultimately a belief that we can save ourselves, and that we will do whatever it takes to earn that salvation for ourselves. It is selfish. It is heartless. It is sinful. It will fail. My only hope is that it doesn’t take too many people down with it who are innocent victims of this sinful theology. God have mercy on us.