Monday, August 12, 2013

A Thought for Monday 8/12/13

“Assemble yourselves together frequently to seek the things that benefit your souls, for all the time of your faith will not profit you unless you are perfect at the last. For in the last days, false prophets and seducers will increase, turning the sheep into wolves; and love will be turned into hate.”  Didache (The Teaching of the Twelve), chp 16

The Didache (did-ah-kay) is an ancient document said to have been written sometime in the late 1st century-early 2nd century.  Some scholars suggest it may have been written by the Apostles themselves, but there is no real consensus.  For purposes of study, however, it is a reflection, summary, and in some cases, clarification of what is taught in the Scriptures.  If there can be anything written that can said to be “the basics” (Acts 15), the Didache may fit that bill.  Understand, however, that this document nor any other should ever replace the Scriptures themselves for disciples’ daily study and devotions.

The above-quoted passage itself seems to bear this out in that the faithful are called to gather “together frequently”.  This surely includes not only small-group Scripture studies but worship and fellowship as well (not either/or).  This passage also makes clear what is fundamental to the Methodist movement from the beginning; that we work with one another to hold one another accountable to the faith for the sake of “the things that benefit your souls”.  Studying together, praying together, fasting together; as much as we can do alone, there is much more we can do when we are “assembled” as the “flock” of the Lord (Luke 12:32).

Working together and staying together as the “flock” (that is, the Church) is the point of striving for “perfection” as it is written in the Scriptures and as the Methodist movement began to grow beyond that moment of spiritual clarification, of justification, and pursuing “sanctification”, to continually grow in faith and in love; for truly, what is “love” if not expressed outwardly in works toward the building up of the Body, especially the “neighbor” whom Jesus defines as one who needs our help?  If we do not “love” them enough to help, then it can be said we “hate” them, for there is no gray area.  We must also remember that predators do not attack a whole body; rather the predator works to separate one from the flock, preferably the weakest.  So do false prophets seek out the weak among us to seduce with half-truths and outright lies, and work to capitalize on our doubts and fears. 

We need each other, “for all the time of your faith will not profit you unless you are perfect at the last”.  It is as Jesus states in Matthew’s gospel: “You shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (5:48).  The Twelve did not seek to call forth a bunch of individuals; rather they were apostles to the Church, to build up the Body of Christ in the world, to work with one another, to strive together, and to be prepared for the Coming of our Lord.  And make no mistake; there is much to be done.



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