LESSON: LUKE 17:22-37
“If they say to you, ‘Lo, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; if they say, ‘Lo, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.” Matthew 24:26
At the time of the holy fathers, like Anthony and others, shortly after the time of the apostles, the error of which Christ spoke here had already arisen, although strongly opposed by Anthony. Everybody became interested in the wilderness, and many thousands of saints made their homes there. This kind of devotion soon gained such repute and publicity that Jerome and Augustine became its adoring devotees and could not praise it highly enough.
If we look at this business without blinkers on, however, we see that Christ’s words here in the text are absolutely opposed to it, and that among all these thousands there were many heretics who must have been damned. Although there were also holy people in the deserts who escaped being seduced, the example they set was certainly dangerous and not to be held up for emulation.
The Christian life must not simply be linked with the desert but must be allowed freedom to develop everywhere. Christ lived His life here on earth in the midst of the world, and so also did His apostles. It is Christ’s will that we should step out into the world even today to preach publicly and exhort men to come to Christ.
Those who went out into the wilderness simply forsook their fellowmen and refused to stay in the world because they thought that they were being called upon to suffer too much in this world. They chose their own ascetic way of life because they wanted to be higher-ranking Christians than the others who remained in the world.
PRAYER: Lord God, heavenly Father, it is Your will that we should spend our lives in the midst of our fellowmen here in this world. Give us at all times the insights and the love to really serve our fellowmen in a way that will bring them, together with us, to the enjoyment of the blessings You have prepared for us, through Christ our Savior. Amen.