To The End

I know I have friends who love this topic, but this is not a blog on eschatology. I might do that sometime, but I just don’t really like to get into secondary issues. If it’s a heretical opinion, that’s one thing, but other than that, I like to comment on the issues that unite us all and we can work out the secondary details together.

I’d like to imagine you’re riding in a car with a friend one day who stops at a department store to buy some things. You go in with him and you see him buy a hammer and a DVD. You head back to his house with him thinking that he’s going to do some basic repairs and then watch a movie.

You are surprised as you see him get home and he uses the hammer as a paperweight to hold the page open on the book that he’s reading. He then gets the DVD out of the package. You hope for some sanity then but instead, he puts it on the table nearby and then sets his drink on top of it.

You’re looking at him stunned and he just says “What? I wanted to hold my book open and I wanted a new coaster.”

“But that’s not what a hammer and DVD are for.”

“That’s what I’m using them for though.”

Now granted, you could use both for such things. My cell phone has often been used, for instance, to hold a page down on a book and a nearby object (Though not a DVD yet!) has been used as a coaster before. The point is though that you would not think of going out and buying those things simply to use in that way?

Why? Because of the final causes. What’s a final cause? A final cause is the means for which a thing is made. The final cause is a baseball bat is to hit baseballs. (As Ron Nash says as well as a good friend of mine, the Kansas City Royals have yet to discover that.) The final cause of my chair is a place to sit. The final cause of my TV is to show images.

Thus, when we get to a hammer, the final cause of the hammer is to hit objects, which are usually nails. The final cause of a DVD is to be played on a DVD player and shown on a TV to provide entertainment or educational benefit depending on whatever is contained on the DVD itself.

What is the final cause of all that is?

When we view the biblical account, we see that all things are good. (Except man being alone! AMEN AMEN!) Why were they good though? For what purpose were they made? The answer is that they are good because they show the glory of God and the purpose for which they are is to give glory to God.

Yet what if we use something in the creation and we do not use it to give glory to God? What if we use it purely for ourselves? Are we not violating in that case, the final cause of creation? Are we not as crazy as the person who uses a hammer as a paperweight or a DVD as a coaster?

This is, in essence, idolatry, and it happens frequently in our world. The purpose of money is to be used in trade for the purchasing of goods. When money is made the end in itself though, then money is being misused. We cannot treat money as the highest good for it itself has a good higher than it that it is the means towards.

A big one in our world today is sexuality. How many people do you really think are against the idea of God because he puts a hamper on their sex lives? If sex was the highest good, then let us go out and get all that we can. What if it isn’t though? The biblical view is that the sexual system is designed for the continuance of the species. Pleasure and intimacy are more accidents. They are not the main reason for the act, although they do result from the act. We eat to get nourishment, but most of us don’t complain about the pleasure that results as well.

Here’s an interesting one. Morality. This is one of the problems in discussing those who’ve never heard. “But they’re such good people!” That would count if that was the goal of God. If God wanted to just make “Good people,” then maybe we could have some grounds for pluralism. God doesn’t want to make good people though. He wants to make us into gods as it were. (Not in the sense that we become deity, but in that we reflect him.)

One is not good simply for the sake of being good. One is good so that one may draw near to God and find happiness in him. If you become good, but you do not draw near to God, then your goodness doesn’t count for anything. Your righteousness at that point is indeed filthy rags. For Christians, the goal is Mt. Zion. It is not Mt. Sinai. Morality is a means. It is not the end.

Today then, I urge you to see what you do and what you have and what you see around you. Realize that what you see are signs. Each of them is pointing you to that beyond itself. Let us not violate what is warned of in Romans 1 where we worship the creation rather than the creator. It’s all about him.

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