Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mathetes and proper worship

The letter is addressed to Diognetus, and according to Mathetes, he desires to learn the mode of worshiping God prevalent among the 1st century Christians.  Much like today, the primitive church worshiped in a variety of ways.  However, were these ways orthodox, approved by God, or are they pagan rituals incorporated into the true faith, thus corrupting it?

"Come, then, after you have freed yourself from all prejudices possessing your mind, and laid aside what you have been accustomed to..."  Growing up in church in Conyers, I was accustomed to a God who loves everybody the same way, who evangelizes to kids through pizza parties, who lets women preach as long as they believe the Scriptures, who gives fresh revelation to people, and who is too gentlemanly to get in the way of your free will.  When I grew up, I came to realize that some of that is true, but that most of this is consumer-driven to get people into church who will not respect Christ as the Sovereign Lord that he is. 

I was accustomed to women preachers and a very feminine faith.  The Bible shows how different men and women are, and men are to be the leaders of the Church.  They can let women assist them and enjoy their theological wealth, but men are the ones who are to lead the Church and return it to the system that saves all the elect men and women while still granting judgment where judgment is due.

Mathetes continues by recounting all the materials people worship even unaware.  There is the stone we tread on, brass, wood, silver, iron, earthenware.  In today's world it could be tattoos, cars, Kindles, rock music, Ipods, fun times, LifeWay, and so much more.  All of these idols are deaf, blind, and have no life.  They certainly cannot give or sustain life.

Mathetes narrows the standards more.  "Jews who worship God like pagans worship images are in error."  These people think that by rituals, offerings, contemplation, asceticism, traditional music, contemporary music, listening to non-Christian gurus who are nice but have no saving hope in Jesus, that they will impress God.  They do impress people who do not pay attention to God's command to not worship him like the pagans worship their gods (Deuteronomy 18).  They do not impress God.  Their hope is in everything but Jesus.  Jesus is the only one who can redeem you and bring you to God.

"You are sufficiently convinced that the Christians properly abstain from the vanity and error common to both Jews and Gentiles."  Christians stand out by their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life.  They consider themselves foreigners and sojourners in the lands where they were born with the hope that they belong to God's kingdom, not an earthly kingdom.  They do not destroy their offspring through everything from abortion to never spanking or disciplining their kids.  They know that "God, the Lord and Fashioner of all things...proved himself not merely a friend of mankind, but also long-suffering."

Nothing else could cover our sins but his righteousness.  The wicked and ungodly cannot be justified except by the Son of God.

"Having therefore convinced us in the former time that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Savior who is able to save even those things which is was impossible to save, by both these facts, he desired to lead us to trust in his kindness, to esteem him as our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counselor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honor, Glory, Power, and Life."

He starts the next section with chapter 10 saying that people who desire such exclusive faith in Christ will receive first of all the knowledge of the Father.  The Father sends this knowledge and wisdom.  Mathetes will talk about the next steps soon.

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