(NOT YET WRITTEN) God as a means to an end. The classic example is the prosperity "gospel": "If you come to Jesus, he will make your life better, give you money, make you successful in business". There are all sorts of reasons this is offensive, but the key one is that it takes God out of the center and treats him as a machine to be used to achieve our ends. We are not stupid enough to be taken in by something that flagrant, but are we seduced by analogous ideas? * Being Christians will make your marriage better. * Living with Christian principles will make us better at our jobs. * The bible teaches us how to bring up our children. * If we sort out our relationships with God, the church will prosper. The reason these ideas are so compelling is that all of them are true; but if we pursue them for the end-product, we have completely missed the point. We don't cultivate a relationship with God so that we can get these other things; the other things are in fact BY-products of the relationship that is central. "Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you". Not "Seek all these things, and a good tactic for that is to give some attention to the kingdom of God". "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die" -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer. "Take up your cross and follow me" doesn't mean "be prepared for some minor irritations", it means "count yourself as dead". (Is the phrase "dead to the world" in the bible.) Jesus himself makes this absolutely clear in the parable of the pearl of great price. A pearl is a good example. It's all or nothing. The merchant didn't have the option of giving 10%, 50% or 90% of this life for _some_ of the pearl, it had to be his whole life for the whole pearl. "If we aim for the Earth, we won't get it and we'll miss out on Heaven. But if we aim for Heaven, we'll get the Earth thrown in for free" -- C. S. Lewis, but he said it much better. We may not treat the addition of God to our lives as we might treat the arrival of a new pet dog or even a husband or wife. To be a Christian is to belong to him, nothing less. "I died to the old way of life that I might live to God" (Paul?)