Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Temptations of this Generation

I am reading The Sayings of the Desert Fathers as part of a Spiritual Formation Academy I am preparing to attend. I have only begun to read this book which list the quotes of the Abbas by their names alphabetically, so I am only on "Anthony the Great."

It seems Anthony was a bit of a hard case. He told it as it was, whether it was polite or not. I guess becoming a recluse does tend to take a toll on your social graces. One of the quotes that struck me, as it was said in the late third and early fourth centuries, was this:

He also said, 'God does not allow the same warfare and temptations to this generation as he did formerly, for men are weaker now and cannot bear so much.

What does this say about us? We are many, many generations removed from that and are obviously weaker than even that generation. Coming from the first century Christians who were willing to die, en masse, for their beliefs, to renounce not only the popular idea of the time but their ruler, to proudly proclaim that they were followers of Jesus. Then we have Anthony's era who were willing to leave the comforts of their homes, selling everything they have and giving it to the poor, and living off of the grace of God in hermitages or as recluses. To the generation of the 21st century, where we only live as Christians when its convenient, not really prepared to die for our beliefs, we negotiate with God what we are willing to do, and everything for the Church is subject to schedules of secular activities.

How far we have come from the faith of our fore-fathers and mothers! It is a good thing that we do not have the temptations they had, because we could not bear them! So, the next time that you feel that it is too hard to be a Christian and that the temptations are more than you can bear, remember it is easier now than any other time in the history of Christianity to be a Christian and a follower of Christ, and we are weaker in our faith rather than gaining strength in the ground-work laid by the martyrs and the defenders of our faith.

I hope you take this opportunity to remind yourself that we must be strong in the faith, not taking for granted the ease with which we live, and use this to build up our faith rather than have it wither and die.


Eve said...

I disagree, Rev. I think it is harder to be a Christian today than it was back then. We have temptations on every side, from the womb to the grave.
God doesn't change so I don't believe he is making it easier on us. It is a hard walk and many will not make it to the end. Only times have changed, not the people and not God.

CurtissAnn said...

I believe today we have more encouragement than ever before, because of equally great apostles as ever, but now the communication is greater. I was at the bookstore last week, got several encouraging and informative books. One was Billy Graham's book on the Holy Spirit. I have not heard much preaching about the Holy Spirit. Also, I have found on the web many Christian women blogs not preaching but shining their light of faith. It is all where we look, I think.