Monday, February 10, 2014

The world's plan for you - The Instructor on with whom we should associate

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.
"And these women are carried about over the temples, sacrificing and practising divination day by day, spending their time with fortune-tellers, and begging priests, and disreputable old women; and they keep up old wives’ whisperings over their cups, learning charms and incantations from soothsayers, to the ruin of the nuptial bonds. And some men they keep; by others they are kept; and others are promised them by the diviners. They know not that they are cheating themselves, and giving up themselves as a vessel of pleasure to those that wish to indulge in wantonness; and exchanging their purity for the foulest outrage... For the licentious rush readily into uncleanness, like swine rushing to that part of the hold of the ship which is depressed." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 3, Chapter 4)
Clement is speaking here of the women of luxury who were carried about on their litters, not to be shielded from the gaze of men, but for the show of their finery. They rush out into the world to engage in the commerce of the day, all the while not realizing that they are the prey the world was seeking for.

If you don't have a plan for your life, the world has one for you and it's not one to bring you closer to God. Peter warns us, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8) The devil is seeking to devour us and "the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." (1 John 5:19 NKJV) We cannot simply go along with the world and expect to find the Kingdom of God. We must break ranks with them and begin marching in a different direction, in a direction that is illuminated by the Word of God inside us. This will not make us popular, for even Peter remarks that, "they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you." (1 Peter 4:4) But we must resist the world and its devices and pursue a different course, casing off all entrapment of our former life. The world does not mean us good, but God does.
"But those who are more refined than these keep Indian birds and Median pea-fowls, and recline with peak-headed creatures; playing with satyrs, delighting in monsters. They laugh when they hear Thersites; and these women, purchasing Thersiteses highly valued, pride themselves not in their husbands, but in those wretches which are a burden on the earth, and overlook the chaste widow, who is of far higher value than a Melit├Žan pup, and look askance at a just old man, who is lovelier in my estimation than a monster purchased for money. And though maintaining parrots and curlews, they do not receive the orphan child; but they expose children that are born at home, and take up the young of birds, and prefer irrational to rational creatures; although they ought to undertake the maintenance of old people with a character for sobriety, who are fairer in my mind than apes, and capable of uttering something better than nightingales... But these, on the other hand, prefer ignorance to wisdom, turning their wealth into stone, that is, into pearls and Indian emeralds. And they squander and throw away their wealth on fading dyes, and bought slaves; like crammed fowls scraping the dung of life. 'Poverty,' it is said, 'humbles a man.' By poverty is meant that niggardliness by which the rich are poor, having nothing to give away." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 3, Chapter 4)
How deprived is the world that they should delight in riches and exotic things more than people. Notice the contrast that Clement paints. They delight more in their possessions that in their husbands, they spend their wealth on soulless animals rather than helping the orphaned child, and they prefer their licentious friends while showing disdain on the just and the aged. In their pursuit of worldly riches they value the temporal things those things that have of eternal value. They look with little consequence on the practice of exposing of children at birth yet defend they defend the lives of mere animals. They reminds me of many a rich and famous person today who cries out against the destruction of an Eagle's egg but celebrates the right of a woman to terminate the life of her unborn child.

How can we have become so void of all feeling and care that we no longer know the things that are of true value, that we prize things more than people and worship the creation over the creator? These are the thing that result from the pursuit of the world and its riches. Maybe its time for repentance, for a turning about, for seeking of a new direction. As long as we follow the world we will inherit the corruption of the world, but if we follow Christ, we will find eternal life!

David Robison

No comments:

Post a Comment