Thursday, June 4, 2009

1 Clement 1: A Healthy Christian Community

I have started to read through 1 Clement with my wife. Some people in the early church really cherished these letters from these great men of God so I thought I should too. I haven't read the whole letter yet, and haven't done extensive research on it either, but I have started to make some notes and study questions for the first chapter. You can read the letter here and you can read a bit about Clement here. I would also highly suggest purchasing this book.

1 Clement 1

The members of the Christian community are:

1) marked by a faith that is focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. They are constantly looking to him because they know that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him and he is returning to judge the living and the dead.
2) genuinely pious. Their piety consists of showing generosity and love to their ‘neighbors’; in other words, they do good to all, especially to those of the household of faith.
3) openly hospitable. They open up their home to all because Christ is Lord of all. When Christians share what they have with others, regardless of sex, race, or class, it is a powerful testimony to the world that Jesus is building his worldwide kingdom community.
4) sound in their knowledge. They will know their Bibles and will not be tossed to and fro by false teaching. They will know the fundamentals of the faith: that the Messiah was revealed, justified by the Spirit; seen by angels, proclaimed to the nations; believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
5) they submit to the leadership and honor those who are ‘aged’ in the faith. God has ordained that local churches have established authorities. Their role is to teach and shepherd the flock. To demonstrate the unity of God’s family members must submit to godly leadership. Another blessing of local churches are ‘experienced’ Christians. There is much wisdom to be gleaned from these people.

The leadership of the Christian community instruct:

1) the young people how to think. Minds wander, especially young ones. They need to learn wisdom because it doesn’t come naturally. Young people need to be trained to use their minds in a way that honors Christ as Lord.
2) the women to have a blameless, reverent and pure conscience. Women should have a heart for their husbands and their home. They need to be instructed on how to remain obedient to their husbands and manage their households in a godly manner.

Questions for Reflection:

1) If a godly person were to look at your life would they be able to say that you have a faith that is steadfast? What best describes you: Are you constantly worrying or getting in ‘bad moods’? or do you find that when you enter into hardship your thoughts turn to the crucified, risen and reigning Messiah?

2) Are you generous with your possessions? When you go to work and get a paycheck are you focused on, “how can I use this money for myself” or are you thinking, “how can I use this money to bless others?”

3) Do you seek to open up your home to others? If not, why? Do people feel “stand-offish” around you or do you make people feel welcome?

4) Are you actively reading God’s word? Many Christians in the early church didn’t have any Scriptures available to them and would consider it a huge blessing to have their own copy of God’s word. Do you read the Bible daily or do you just casually read it ‘here and there’?

5) What do you think it means to submit to church leadership? Do you seek out the wisdom of those in authority and from those who have been Christians for a long time?

6) What do you focus your attention on? Christ Jesus said that we ought to, “Seek first the kingdom of God and it’s righteousness”. Do you set your mind on how you can honor Christ as Lord in all things?

7) How is your home life? If you are a husband, are you leading and loving your wife as Christ does the church? If you are a wife, are you humbly submitting to the guidance and counsel of your husband?

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