“To those who pleaded their ignorance, Clement of Alexandria replies: “But are we not all striving after life? What sayest thou? How didst thou become a believer? How lovest thou God and thy neighbour? Is not that philosophy? Thou sayest, I have never learned to read. But thou hast heard the Scriptures read; and the faith may be learned without hearing the Scriptures, for there is a Scripture which is adapted to the capacity of the most ignorant, and which yet is divine, and that is love.”
When I came across this passage while doing my studies, I had to stop and read it again and again. This one passage stopped me with its profound simplicity. Sometimes, as Christians, we get so caught up in doctrines and religious beliefs that we miss the most important concept that our faith is built upon – Love. The question that Clement of Alexandria asks: “How lovest thou God and thy neighbour?” is worth reflecting on. Today, I was in a dialogue with a fundamentalist Christian whose only desire was to throw hateful darts at me and others because we disagreed with him on inerrancy of the Bible. Claiming to be a Christian, he forgot that love is the most important thing. Instead of showing me love, he showered me with ridicule. His testimony in handling disagreement was so far removed from Christian love, that I went away from the dialogue sorely disappointed in the young man. Digging one’s heals in regarding dogma is not as important as loving your neighbor and treating them with respect. If you love your neighbor, you will choose your words more wisely so as not to offend. If you love your neighbor, you will agree to disagree amicably. If you love your neighbor, you will learn to LISTEN to what they have to say because that shows them that you genuinely CARE about what they have to say. Sadly, the young man, with an air of pride and arrogance, made it quite clear that he didn’t care about what we had to say.
Another statement Clement makes is this: “and the faith may be learned without hearing the Scriptures, for there is a Scripture which is adapted to the capacity of the most ignorant, and which yet is divine, and that is love.” Imagine that! Clement does not hold the Bible to the standard that we do. People CAN have faith without the Bible. What a concept, indeed! How is that possible? Because LOVE IS THE ANSWER. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you don’t need to push your theology and beliefs on others. The fact of the matter is this: They don’t care how much you know. . . until they know how much you care – about them.
Truly, God is Love. We as Christians have forgotten that you don’t need the Bible to love God. You don’t need the Bible to love others. You don’t even need the Bible to have faith. However, loving others and treating them with kindness and respect can go a long way in letting them see your faith in action and influencing them for God. To take the position of anger and animosity because of differences only gives a testimony of hatred, not love. Before you take to throwing those darts of ridicule, ask yourself, is that showing love?
Very good food for thought!