Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saying of the Desert Christians: Abba Evagrius


Abba Evagrius said, "Take away temptations and no one will be saved."

It strikes me as strange that in the alphabetical collection, only 1 Saying by Abba Evagrius is preserved. OTOH, he wrote and his work was preserved.

How often have I heard people long to "get away from it all" and everything would be right with them. I've daydreamed about it often enough myself. Abba Evagrius tells me that it is a worthless daydream. It's a bit of a paradox, isn't it? He sees temptations not only as the way to damnation but also to salvation.

Of course the Desert Christians valued works as a way to salvation and we emphasize grace. Maybe we go to far with that just as the Desert Christians went too far with earning salvation.

But I think we may need to recover the concept of temptation. We are bombarded with so much temptation that maybe it doesn't even seem like it any more. A friend of mine in Chicago was telling me that there are supermarkets which have TVs playing ads in the aisles.

Perhaps we belong to email lists which appeal to our own personal interests. How many times do these lists get carried away over the Next New Thing and one feels like one has to have it to belong.

What does withstanding temptation do for us? It creates discomfort, that's fershure. Anxiety, guilt. We make the mistake, perhaps, of thinking we have to be strong, self-sufficient, independent. When temptation comes as it inexorably will, we must remember to call on the Lord and the army of angels encamped around about us. We are not alone when temptations come. We have the whole host of heaven on our side.


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