Saturday, November 23, 2013

The here and now - 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.
"Having now accomplished those things, it were a fitting sequel that our instructor Jesus should draw for us the model of the true life, and train humanity in Christ. Nor is the cast and character of the life He enjoins very formidable; nor is it made altogether easy by reason of His benignity. He enjoins His commands, and at the same time gives them such a character that they may be accomplished." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 12)
Jesus, having obtained our salvation through His own death and sacrifice on the cross, not only bids us to come and receive His salvation, but also to allow Him to lead us into a life that is befitting of our newly obtained salvation. Jesus not only came to save us from an eternity of Hell and eternal separation from God, but also to teach us how to live here and now; to teach us how to live as children of God even as we live in this dead and dying world. His instruction, combined with His commands, are designed to teach us how to live right lives, yet those teachings and commands are not burdensome or inaccessible to us, but He has made all provision that we might keep His commands and obtain to His instruction. Jesus Himself said, "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:30) and Augustine of Hippo put it this way, "Lord command what you will and grant what you command!"
"The view I take is, that He Himself formed man of the dust, and regenerated him by water; and made him grow by his Spirit; and trained him by His word to adoption and salvation, directing him by sacred precepts; in order that, transforming earth-born man into a holy and heavenly being by His advent, He might fulfil to the utmost that divine utterance, 'Let Us make man in Our own image and likeness.' And, in truth, Christ became the perfect realization of what God spake; and the rest of humanity is conceived as being created merely in His image." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 12)
Our hope in this life is not that we might merely escape the eternal fires of Hell, nor that we might one day inherit eternity in Heaven, but that we might live here and now bearing the full image and nature of God. Such an image we once bore but it was lost through sin. Jesus came and re-displayed the image that, as humans created by God, we were meant to carry and now, through the help of our loving instructor, Jesus wants to again teach us how to bear His image and reflect His nature; a goal that is not beyond any one of us.
"But let us, O children of the good Father—nurslings of the good Instructor—fulfil the Father’s will, listen to the Word, and take on the impress of the truly saving life of our Saviour; and meditating on the heavenly mode of life according to which we have been deified, let us anoint ourselves with the perennial immortal bloom of gladness—that ointment of sweet fragrance—having a clear example of immortality in the walk and conversation of the Lord; and following the footsteps of God, to whom alone it belongs to consider, and whose care it is to see to, the way and manner in which the life of men may be made more healthy." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 12)
The life of God is not only meant to be marveled at and admired, but it means to leave its mark on our life. We must not only claim the life of Christ but we must allow it to leave its mark on our lives; we must allow it to change us and conform us to its image. The write of Hebrews says of Jesus that, "He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature." (Hebrews 1:3) The Greek word for "exact representation" is our word for "Character" and represents both the engraving tool and the mark that is left by the tool; its not only that which impresses but also the impression that is left. Jesus showed forth the character of God and we are to, in turn, show forth the character of Jesus. Christianity is as much about the here-and-now as it is about the sweet-by-and-by. God is desiring to show us a new way to live, a way that is worthy of our new calling and position in Christ, a way that is right and fitting, a way that is "more healthy." In seeking such a life it is right that we should turn to Christ, for He alone is able to instruct us in the right way. Many may desire to be our instructors, but only Jesus knows the way of eternal life.

David Robison

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