Friday, November 09, 2012

1st Clement 49 - The value of love

John tells us that, "God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." (1 John 4:16) Not only is love of great value but it is also of great power; by abiding in it we also abide in God. Clement shows us both the value of love and the effects it has in and on our life.
"Let him who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ. Who can describe the [blessed] bond of the love of God? What man is able to tell the excellence of its beauty, as it ought to be told? The height to which love exalts is unspeakable. Love unites us to God. Love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Clement 49)
Love if more than a feeling, it is both an action and a response. Love compels us to keep God's commandments. Some may, our of fear, obey a tyrant, but only while the threat of violence remains. Should one become free of his oppressor he would return to his own ways. But love compels us to obedience, not out of fear, but out of gratitude and a desire to be pleasing to the one who loves us and the one we love. In the Kingdom of God, love is the motivator, not fear.

Love also binds us to God and one another. Hosea spoke of God's love when he said, "I  led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love, and I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; and I bent down and fed them." (Hosea 11:4)Paul also encourages us to, "Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." (Collosions3:14) Love binds us together, it is through love that God forgive us of our sins and that we forgive others of their sins. Love is the perfect bond of unity.

Love is not weak, it is not a fickle emotion, but it has power to change our loves. Love produces within us character and strength. Clement, speaking of the character of love says,
"Love beareth all things, is long-suffering in all things. There is nothing base, nothing arrogant in love. Love admits of no schisms: love gives rise to no seditions: love does all things in harmony." (1 Clement 49)
There is nothing evil, sinful, or hurtful in love. As Paul reminds us, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:10) Love is real, it is demonstrated, it is evidenced by its fruit, and it is known by its character.

In our walk with the Lord and with each other, it is Love that moves us towards our goal of god-likeness and it is love that causes our way to be well pleasing to God.
"By love have all the elect of God been made perfect; without love nothing is well-pleasing to God. In love has the Lord taken us to Himself. On account of the Love he bore us, Jesus Christ our Lord gave His blood for us by the will of God; His flesh for our flesh, and His soul for our souls." (1 Clement 49)
Augustine of Hippo used to say, "God command what you will and give what you command." We are called to love and God has given us Himself who is love. We have been filled with the God of love. We can love because love resides in us.

David Robison

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