Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1st Clement 37 - We are like soldiers

While Paul compares Christian community to a body, Clement compares it to an army.
"Let us then, men and brethren, with all energy act the part of soldiers, in accordance with His holy commandments." (1 Clement 37)
One of the key characteristics of an army is its order. Proper order and adherence to rank is essential for an army to be well disciplined and effective.
"Let us consider those who serve under our generals, with what order, obedience, and submissiveness they perform the things which are commanded them. All are not prefects, nor commanders of a thousand, nor of a hundred, nor of fifty, nor the like, but each one in his own rank performs the things commanded by the king and the generals." (1 Clement 37)
When referring to "our generals," Clement is not referring to Christian leaders whom we might see as generals in the faith, but rather is speaking of the generals in the Roman army; their generals being the generals of their nation. In an army, there are varying ranks, functions, and administrations that must all be performed together for there to be an affective army. You cannot have just generals, nor can you have just foot soldiers. All ranks and functions are necessary and must contribute to each other that the mission of the whole may be accomplished.

The same is true in the Christian church; not all are leaders, not all are teachers, not all are healers, not all evangelists. We all have a different part to play in the army of Christ and we all have our own unique rank and function that we must perform. Only when we commit ourselves to the role and rank assigned to us, and contribute as a member of the larger whole, will the army of God be affective in advancing His kingdom. All are needed, not just the great and powerful, but all are essential.
"The great cannot subsist without the small, nor the small without the great. There is a kind of mixture in all things, and thence arises mutual advantage. Let us take our body for an example. The head is nothing without the feet, and the feet are nothing without the head; yea, the very smallest members of our body are necessary and useful to the whole body." (1 Clement 37)
Our goal in Christian community should not be to advance our own interests nor to try and climb the ecclesiastical "ladder". Our goal is not to become great, to make it to the "head of the class," but rather to become ourselves and to perform the function and duty assigned to us by God. Our motivation should not be our own selfish interests, but rather the interests of the whole; that by playing our part, the whole might be benefited.
"But all work harmoniously together, and are under one common rulefor the preservation of the whole body." (1 Clement 37)
David Robison

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