Saturday, October 13, 2012

1st Clement 34 to 35 - Pursuing the good things of God

Clement understood that the pursuit of the good things of God was not only a solitary pursuit but also a corporate pursuit.
"And let us therefore, conscientiously gathering together in harmony, cry to Him earnestly, as with one mouth, that we may be made partakers of His great and glorious promises. For [the Scripture] saith, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which He hath prepared for them that wait for Him.' " (1 Clement 34)
It is not enough to be personally committed to the pursuit of God, we must also be corporately committed to the pursuit and individually committed to that corporate pursuit. The early Christian church was very much a communal church and individualism was something quite foreign to their understanding. Not that people were not individually members of the church but rather that people were not individuals as islands unto themselves. To be a Christian was inseparable from being part of the church.

Clement quotes his friend Paul regarding the many good things that God has for His children and his church, many of which were previously hidden from our understanding. He continues in the revelation that, many of those things that had been previously unknown our know known to us, as Paul said, "to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10)
"How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God! Life in immortality, splendour in righteousness, truth in perfect confidence, faith in assurance, self-control in holiness! And all these fall under the cognizance of our understandings [now]; what then shall those things be which are prepared for such as wait for Him? The Creator and Father of all worlds, the Most Holy, alone knows their amount and their beauty." (1 Clement 35)
Clement, with all the early Christian writers, understood that, while many of the gifts of God have been made know to us by His Spirit, there still remains much that we have yet to see and to even to imagine. Knowing this, Clement asks, "How shall we then find these things that remain hidden?"
"Let us therefore earnestly strive to be found in the number of those that wait for Him, in order that we may share in His promised gifts. But how, beloved, shall this be done?" (1 Clement 35)
Fortunately, he answers his own question.
"If our understanding be fixed by faith towards God; if we earnestly seek the things which are pleasing and acceptable to Him; if we do the things which are in harmony with His blameless will; and if we follow the way of truth, casting away from us all unrighteousness and iniquity, along with all covetousness, strife, evil practices, deceit, whispering, and evil-speaking, all hatred of God, pride and haughtiness, vainglory and ambition. For they that do such things are hateful to God; and not only they that do them, but also those that take pleasure in them that do them." (1 Clement 35)
The pursuit of the many blessings and gifts of God is found in our pursuit of the character, nature, and ways of God. The good things of God are not found by pursuing them directly, but are the rewards and by products of our pursuit Him and of our being conformed into His image. When we pursue God and His holiness and righteousness, then we too receive His blessings and gifts. It is as our Lord Himself said,
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)
 David Robison

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