"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Two Ways: Life Through the Love of All Others; or, Death, Through the Love of Self



The Didache
or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles
(excerpt--from the 1st century)

 I

T
here are two ways: one of life and one of death; and the difference between the two ways is great. 






The way of life is this: first, you should love God, who made you; secondly, love your neighbor as yourself; and whatever things you do not desire to be done to you, do not do them to someone else. Now the words of this teaching are this: Bless those who curse you and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who are persecuting you. For what credit is it if you love those who love you? Do not the Gentiles do the same thing? But love those hating you, and you will not have an enemy. Keep yourself from fleshly and bodily cravings [the passions]. If anyone hits you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him also. And you will be acting maturely. If someone should force you to go one mile, go with him two. If someone takes your coat, give him your shirt also. If anyone should take from you what is yours, do not demand that he give it back, for you cannot. Give to everyone asking you and do not refuse, for the Father desires to give to everyone from His own gifts. Blessed is the one who gives according to the commandment, for he is innocent. But the one who receives without need shall account for his receiving. Furthermore, being held, he shall be examined concerning what he has done, and he shall not be released until he has given back the last cent. It has been said concerning this, "Let your money sweat in your hands until you know whom you should give it to."

And this is the second commandment of the teaching: you shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not corrupt children, nor practice sexual deviation; you shall not steal; nor practice calling on spiritual guides; nor use sorcery; you shall not procure an abortion, nor practice infanticide; you shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. You shall not commit perjury, nor accuse someone falsely; you shall not speak evil nor hold a grudge. You shall not be double minded nor double tongued, for the double tongue is the snare of death. Your word shall not be false or empty, but do what you say. You shall not be covetous or extortionate, or hypocritical, or malicious or proud. You shall not plan evil against your neighbor. You should not hate anyone; but you should reprove some, and you should pray for some, and you should love some more than your own life. My child, flee from evil and from every appearance of evil. Do not be ruled by your passions, for this leads to murder. Neither be jealous, quarrelsome, or quick- tempered. For murders are born out of such things. Do not let yourself develop lust, for this leads to sexual immorality. Do not be foul-mouthed, nor raise your eyes, for this leads to adultery.
 
My child, do not regard omens, for this leads to idolatry. Do not be a sorcerer, nor be involved in astrology or magic purifications. Do not desire to see these things, for that is how idolatry comes. My child, do not be a liar, for lying leads to thievery. Do not be fond of money and do not try to build your own image, for that also leads to thievery. My child, do not be a grumbler, for it leads to blasphemy. Do not be self-willed nor entertain evil thoughts, for that is how blasphemy starts. Be meek, for the meek shall inherit the earth. Be patient and long suffering, devoid of evil, gentle and good, and trembling continually at the words that you have heard. Do not exalt yourself nor act presumptuously. Do not join yourself with the proud, but walk with the righteous and humble men. Accept everything that happens to you as good, knowing that nothing happens apart from God.

My child, you should remember night and day the one who speaks to you the Word of God, and honor him as you would the Lord; for where the delegated authority speaks, there is the Lord. And you should seek every day the presence of the saints, in order that you may be supported by their words. You should not desire division, but make peace between those quarreling. Judge righteously; do not favor anyone in reproving transgressions. Do not be double-minded as to whether anything should or should not be.

Do not be one who stretches out his hand to receive but withdraws it in giving. Give a ransom for your sins if you have it to give. Do not hesitate to give, nor give in a grumbling manner, for you know who is the good Paymaster who rewards? You should not turn away the needy, but share all things with your brother, not saying that anything is your own. For if we are sharers in the eternal things, much more should we be in the physical things. Do not withhold your hand from your son or your daughter, but from their youth teach them the fear of God.  Do not give orders to your slave or your handmaiden—those who hope in the same God—when you are bitter, lest they stop fearing God who is over you both. For He does not come to call men according to their social status, but He calls those whom the Spirit has prepared. And you slaves submit in fear and reverence to your masters as God’s delegated authority over you.

You should hate all hypocrisy and all that is not pleasing to the Lord. Do not forsake the commandments of the Lord, and keep (the teachings) you have received, not adding and not taking away. In church, you should confess your faults; and do not go to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the Way of Life.

But the Way of Death is this: first of all, it is evil and full of curses, lusts, adulteries, murders, thefts, idolatries, witchcrafts, sorceries, robberies, false witnesses, hypocrisies, double-mindedness, fraud, arrogance, boastfulness, jealousies, foul speech, pride, persecutors of the good, haters of truth, lovers of a lie, not regarding the reward of the righteous, not holding to the good or to the righteous judgment, spending sleepless nights not for good, but for wickedness; far from whom is gentleness and patience; loving useless things, seeking rewards, unmerciful to the poor, not helping the hardworking person, not regarding the one who made them, child murderers, destroyers of God’s creation, turning away the needy, oppressing the distressed, wrongfully assisting the rich, unjust judges of the poor, altogether sinful. May you be delivered, my children, from all of these things.

See that no one misleads you from the pathway of this teaching, since it would be contrary to God. For if you are able to bear the whole yoke of the Lord, you should be mature. If you are not able, do what you can.

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