What Clement says to We Modern Followers of the Way of Jesus

In preparation for Sunday’s message, which will be from Philippians 4:1-9, I have been reading some of the writings of the early Church Father Clement of Rome. He may or may not be mentioned in Sundays text (Philippians 4:3 mentions a Clement but we don’t know if it was Clement of Rome or not. Some tradition says it was him while other tradition says it was a different Clement). During some of my reading I was particularly struck by his First Letter to the Church in Corinth.

Clement writes this letter to the church that is a minority within their culture and are often persecuted socially and sometimes officially. There are some who describe the modern church in the West as living in a similar situation, though I would disagree with them – we are not a minority in the culture (at least yet) and we definitely are not persecuted. Still if you view the current situation as similar or even heading in the direction of the culture in which the 1st century church existed (1st Clement was probably written 70-96AD) you should want to listen to how the early church was told to respond to the culture. I believe it is good instruction for any follower of the way of Jesus regardless of the culture you are facing.

And how did Clement instruct the church to respond to the culture?


Humility: Clement emphasizes humility as a core virtue. In a world that often exalts pride and self-interest, he reminds us to follow the example of Jesus—the Humble One. Humility involves recognizing our dependence on God and treating others with kindness and respect.

Hospitality: Hospitality, too, emerges as a vital theme. It’s more than inviting friends over for dinner; it’s about caring for strangers, foreigners, and those in need. When we put others’ needs before our own, we embody the way of Jesus. Yes, it’s risky, but it’s also transformative.

    Read the letter. It is all over it.

    Clement’s instructions to the church came during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, probably the most ruthless persecutor of the church during the Roman Empire. This is instruction that we followers of the way of Jesus always need. We have to be constantly reminded that we follow the Humble One and therefore are called to be humble ourselves.

    I believe hospitality comes out of that same humility. It is taking care of other people’s needs. Thinking of other first. It is inviting the stranger in. It is taking care of the needs of the foreigner. It is putting others before yourself.

    Such actions involve uncertainty and often some chance, but they are the way of Jesus.

    Follow the way.

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