Saturday, October 05, 2013

We are 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.
"That, then, Pædagogy is the training of children, is clear from the word itself. It remains for us to consider the children whom Scripture points to; then to give the pædagogue charge of them. We are the children. In many ways Scripture celebrates us, and describes us in manifold figures of speech, giving variety to the simplicity of the faith by diverse names." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 5)
Regardless of how old we are or how long we have walked with Jesus, we are still children in His sight and, as His children, He takes upon Himself the role of our Pedagogy, or teacher. The scriptures refer to us in many different ways, and in many of them we are addressed by terms that remind us of the simplicity of our faith in Christ. Paul warns us that we should be on our guard lest the devil, or anyone else, should lead us, "astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:3) Along with being called children, we are also called by the names of young animals, such as lambs, suckling calves, doves, turtle doves, and colts. In all these similes, He alludes to a nature that is
"the simple children... tenderness and simplicity of disposition in men which constitutes innocence... harmlessness and innocence and placable nature... unyoked to vice, not broken in by wickedness; but simple, and bounding joyously to the Father alone... free and new-born, jubilant by means of faith, ready to run to the truth, swift to speed to salvation, that tread and stamp under foot the things of the world." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 5)
These similes depict our childhood with God, our eternal youth, as opposed to being men and women of the world.
"And if we have one Master in heaven, as the Scripture says, then by common consent those on the earth will be rightly called disciples. For so is the truth, that perfection is with the Lord, who is always teaching, and infancy and childishness with us, who are always learning. Thus prophecy hath honoured perfection, by applying to it the appellation man. For instance, by David, He says of the devil: 'The Lord abhors the man of blood;' he calls him man, as perfect in wickedness. And the Lord is called man, because He is perfect in righteousness." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 5)
Compared to our Lord, who is perfect in righteousness, we will always be children, always learning, always growing, always being guided and disciples into the things and ways of God. As our Father, God also discipline us for our good that we might grow in righteousness. The writer of Hebrews says, "It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons." (Hebrews 12:7-8) Clement put it this way,
"And we also in truth, honouring the fairest and most perfect objects in life with an appellation derived from the word child, have named training and discipline [from that same word]. Discipline we declare to be right guiding from childhood to virtue." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 5)
It is the work of our Instructor, the very Son of God, to guides us from childishness to virtue; to leads us from selfishness to god-likeness, to lead us from being infantile to of full stature. Jesus is our instructor, our teacher, and our guide. Let us give ourselves to His gentle hand and His gentle ways that we might grow up to be like Him. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30)

David Robison

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