Lead us not…

Temptation. That word has sent shivers up and down the spines of countless faithful for centuries. The prayer that Jesus taught his disciples in some translations has the line,  “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” peirasmós, translated temptation, (because of the negative sense derived from the context w/evil), also has the idea of test or trial. James wrote that the person who perseveres through trial is blessed. Thomas à Kempis wrote about this in The Imitation of Christ. No one, according to him, is immune to temptations and trials. They are, “troublesome and severe, are often useful to a man, for in them he is humbled, purified, and instructed.” In another place, he refers to Paul’s statements that temptations are common to humanity. In these God will leave a way to get through them. The task, for à Kempis, is to not run from trials, but to let God help us through them. “Fire tempers iron and temptation steels the just.”
This way of thinking seems to run counter to what we in the West would think. We want quick fixes. We don’t want to experience any discomfort, especially internally. When temptation comes, it starts in the mind. We are “tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (Jas. 1:14). The battle ground is laid within our thoughts and desires. Sin, then is born and matures into death. This is what scares people. What if I fail? Why can’t I simply get past these tests? We want to ‘pass’ them and graduate. There is no graduation in this life. Reliance on God the Holy Spirit is how we persevere. It is the crucible in which our minds are renewed and we are transformed; metamorphosed into the likeness of Christ. Rather than running from these trials, it seems that it is more important to embrace Yahweh and walk through the fire.

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