Back in August I posted this introduction to the ancient Christian document known as “1 Clement”–
Sometime in the last few years of the first century or first few years of the second–in other words, within living memory of the Apostles–the leader of the church in Rome wrote a letter to the church in Corinth. It was the same church Paul wrote both of his New Testament letters to. The author’s name was Clement (of Rome), and the document has come down to us as 1 Clement. It’s one of the oldest Christian documents outside of the New Testament, and offers not only devotional depth, but some insight into the way Christians spoke and thought in those days. I recommend finding a copy of it and reading it.
Here’s a great passage from the letter (20:1 – 21:1-5) where Clement discusses the way God rules all of creation. It’s huge and profound–the kind of thing that inspires worship. And he ends with a serious charge too, one which we would do well to listen to. Enjoy…
The heavens move at his direction and obey him in peace. Day and night complete the course assigned by him, neither hindering the other. The sun and the moon and the choirs of stars circle in harmony within the courses assigned to them, according to his direction, without any deviation at all. The earth, bearing fruit in the proper seasons in fulfillment of his will, brings forth food full in abundance for both humans and beasts and all living things that dwell upon it without dissension and without altering anything he has decreed. Moreover, the incomprehensible depths of the abysses and the indescribable judgments of the underworld are constrained by the same ordinances. The basin of the boundless sea, gathered together by his creative action into its reservoirs, does not flow beyond the barriers surrounding it; instead it behaves just as he ordered it. For he said: “Thus far shall you come, and your waves shall break within you.” The ocean—impassable by humans—and the worlds beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. The seasons, spring and summer and autumn and winter, give way in succession, one to the other, in peace. The winds from the different quarters fulfill their ministry in the proper season without disturbance; the everflowing springs, created for enjoyment and health, give without fail their life-sustaining breasts to humankind. Even the smallest living things come together in harmony and peace. All these things the great Creator and Master of the universe ordered to exist in peace and harmony, thus doing good to all things, but especially abundantly to us who have taken refuge in his compassionate mercies through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the majesty forever and ever. Amen.
Take care, dear friends, lest his many benefits turn into a judgment upon all of us, as will happen if we fail to live worthily of him and to do harmoniously those things that are good and pleasing in his sight. For it says somewhere, “The Spirit of the Lord is a lamp searching the depths of the heart.” Let us realize how near he is, and that nothing escapes him, either of our thoughts or of the plans that we make. It is right, therefore, that we should not be deserters from his will. Let us offend foolish and senseless people, who exalt themselves and boast in the arrogance of their words, rather than God.