Friday, September 21, 2012

1st Clement 23 - Aproaching God with a simple mind

Clement reminds us that those who draw forth the compassion of God are those who fear Him and approach Him with a simple mind.
"The all-merciful and beneficent Father has bowels [of compassion] towards those that fear Him, and kindly and lovingly bestows His favours upon those who come to Him with a simple mind." (1 Clement 23)
Having a simple mind is different than being a simpleton. The simpleton lacks wisdom and proceeds straight into folly. The simple mind, however, is pure and innocent, like the mind of a child. Jesus taught us,
"Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3-4)
Sometimes we want to make faith and Christianity more complex than it is. When we do, we loose site of what Paul called the "simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:3) When we draw near to God we must draw near, not with a haughty or proud mind, but with a pure and simple mind; with the mind of a child.

Clement continues to further define what he means by a simple mind by describing its opposites.
"Wherefore let us not be double-minded; neither let our soul be lifted up on account of His exceedingly great and glorious gifts." (1 Clement 23)
A double minded mind is a mind that is full our doubt. As Clement writes,
"Far from us be that which is written, 'Wretched are they who are of a double mind, and of a doubting heart; who say, These things we have heard even in the times of our fathers; but, behold, we have grown old, and none of them has happened unto us.'" (1 Clement 23)
A double minded mind is a mind that is more focused on the natural world than on the promises of God. The double minded man can see only what is before Him. He does not perceive the Kingdom of God and he is oblivious to the spiritual realities all around him. When confronted with "facts" that do no support his "belief", he is quick to doubt and to question God.

Abraham was a man of a simple mind. God spoke and he believed Him. His trust was not is the worldly existence around him but in the character and power of God to fulfill His word. Even when it was clear to everyone around him, even his wife Sarah, that he was not going to have a son, he still believed.
"Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. " (Romans 4:19-21)
A simple mind is also a mind that is not lifted up nor full of malice. Jesus spoke of those who's mind was full of malice towards their fellow man.
"But if that evil slave says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time,' and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 24:48-51)
The heart that is lifted up with malice believes the grace of God to be weakness. He sees the goodness of God but deludes himself in regards to the severity of God. He no longer believes that God sees or cares what he does and there is no fear of God in his heart. This, combined with his malice, causes him to abuse and mistreat his fellow man, all the while believing that God will never punish him. However, someone once said that while the wheels of God's justice turn slowly, they grind exceedingly fine.

The simple mind is a mind that is humble and not lifted up. A mind that loves his fellow man and a mind that reverences and fears the Lord. A mind that has learned what is meant by, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 9:10)

David Robison

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