Monday, October 07, 2013

How to be children - The Instructor

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.
"He does not then use the appellation of children on account of their very limited amount of understanding from their age, as some have thought. Nor, if He says, 'Except ye become as these children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of God,' are His words to be understood as meaning 'without learning.' We, then, who are infants, no longer roll on the ground, nor creep on the earth like serpents as before, crawling with the whole body about senseless lusts; but, stretching upwards in soul, loosed from the world and our sins, touching the earth on tiptoe so as to appear to be in the world, we pursue holy wisdom, although this seems folly to those whose wits are whetted for wickedness. Rightly, then, are those called children who know Him who is God alone as their Father, who are simple, and infants, and guileless." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 5)
While the scriptures speak of us a children, it does not speak of us as being childish or infantile, rather as toddlers who have learned to reach upwards towards their Father. We are children because we have a Father; a Father who seeks our best and desires to raise us up into His own nature and image. It is those who reach upwards who are the children of God. Thus being the children of God, the scriptures speak to us of how we ought to live; how we ought to live as children.
"But if the new man in Scripture is represented by the ass, this ass is also a colt. 'And he bound,' it is said, 'the colt to the vine,' having bound this simple and childlike people to the word, whom He figuratively represents as a vine. For the vine produces wine, as the Word produces blood, and both drink for health to men—wine for the body, blood for the spirit." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 5)
As children, we should live in communion with the Word of God; both the Word that became flesh and the written word of His revelation among men and through out history. Our Instructor leads us to the Word from which we can harvest understanding, knowledge, instruction, and guidance. John wrote to young men and women because, "you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." (1 John 2:14) I believe the abiding word within them is what made them strong and able to overcome the evil one. As children, we need the word of God to train us and make us strong that we might overcome all things.
"To those, therefore, that have made progress in the word, He has proclaimed this utterance, bidding them dismiss anxious care of the things of this world, and exhorting them to adhere to the Father alone, in imitation of children. Wherefore also in what follows He says: 'Take no anxious thought for the morrow; sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.' Thus He enjoins them to lay aside the cares of this life, and depend on the Father alone. And he who fulfils this commandment is in reality a child and a son to God and to the world,—to the one as deceived, to the other as beloved." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 5)
Cares of this life can tare at our relationship with God. Jesus warned us of the seed that was sowed among the thorns, "And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." (Matthew 13:22) The cares of this life can lead us to unfruitfulness, both in our personal lives and in our service to God. Our Instructor would have us to cast our cares upon Him in wholly trusting Him for our needs and our lives "because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) We must learn to trust Him more than we trust ourselves, even as a child trusts his or her parents for all they need.
"The mother draws the children to herself; and we seek our mother the Church. Whatever is feeble and tender, as needing help on account of its feebleness, is kindly looked on, and is sweet and pleasant, anger changing into help in the case of such: for thus horses’ colts, and the little calves of cows, and the lion’s whelp, and the stag’s fawn, and the child of man, are looked upon with pleasure by their fathers and mothers. Thus also the Father of the universe cherishes affection towards those who have fled to Him; and having begotten them again by His Spirit to the adoption of children, knows them as gentle, and loves those alone, and aids and fights for them; and therefore He bestows on them the name of child." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 5)
Just as the Father looks kindly upon us, so does our mother. Early christian writers often wrote of the church as our mother; as a place of being tenderly cared for and nurtured into the things of God. A place where we could find fellowship with our fellow children of God as together we receive the nurturing and training the church provides. For the early believer there was no separating their relationship with the Father from their relationship with the church their mother. We need each other and we need the church. The writer of Hebrews warns us, "not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:25) Being a child also means being a part of a family. Let us not forsake the Body of Christ which is His church and our mother.

David Robison

No comments:

Post a Comment