“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned…”
I’m going to let a bit of my bias show here. I first copied the verse above from the New King James. I then ditched it for the King James. (I became a Christian reading King James, and the language has stuck with me.) There’s no difference in the message, but I think there is a difference in the tone, and I like the word choices.
Paul in another place (Romans) said that Christianity should transform the lives of its disciples. In the verse cited above, he gives the short answer to what the transformation should look like.
The end—that is, the goal or the purpose, of God’s word is to produce actions of love that flow from a pure heart. That’s the destination; it is not the present state of affairs. So, it is to be expected that the typical Christian, if there is such a thing, is not yet perfect.
The world criticizes because they expect instant results. They expect the Christian, like Athena in mythology, to spring fully formed from the Father’s forehead. That this expectation is totally unrealistic is irrelevant.
Christian discipleship is a journey. It is begun in desperate sorrow and traveled by the weak along a road of challenges—sometimes painful challenges. It is not a question of if we have arrived, but whether we are going the right way. The trip will require course corrections along the way because the easy way and the fast lane are not always the best way to where we are going.
There is one immediate reward here though. Undertaking the journey and going in the right direction will produce a good conscience that will help steer us as we continue onward.
Unfeigned is not a word you hear much these days, newer versions use “sincere faith”. When you get right down to it the meaning is the same. The verb to feign means to pretend or to fake something. Christians are not to deal in faith for show or in comparisons with others.
If being the genuine person you are while being transformed seems to be contradictory, there is something you must understand. You are not being transformed into someone that you are not. You are being transformed into your true self—the you that will live a unique eternal life with God. There is no need to fake or pretend and neither is there any shame in being at our present, particular point on the journey. We are following Jesus and He alone defines the direction, sets the pace, and determines when we have arrived.
Knowing where you’re going makes the trip more pleasurable.