Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Perseverance under Hardship

There's no question that Childlovers put up with a lot of hardships, both from the exterior world and from our own conscience, and especially if a Childlover happens to be Christian. There's also a human tendency for people, and Childlovers in particular, to think they are alone in their struggles (and the world does a fine job making it seem that way), but the persecutions and self-denials that are visited upon us are nothing new. Early Christianity, and indeed the life, suffering, and death of Christ himself, are a testament for us about what true persecution looks like, and serve as models for us about how to react to hardship. Consider the sufferings endured by those sent in Christ, such as those experienced by the blessed Apostles Paul and Barnabas, especially in their own homeland, as the following Acts passage describes:
"In those days, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.
After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch. They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” ACTS 14:19-22
St. Paul spread the new commandment of Christ and healed in His name, and for that he was almost stoned to death. In fact, he was so badly scarred after being stoned on this occasion, and perhaps he was even left unconscious, that his fellow countrymen thought him to be dead. When his fellow disciples gathered with him though, he found the strength to continue on in his mission for Christ. In fact, on the following day after he had been beaten within an inch of his very life, it is said he set off with Barnabas on a missionary journey. So it is with experience that he can testify to us that "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God." 

When we suffer, we are strong, especially when we are among friends. God through the pen of St. Luke the evangelist is asking Christian Childlovers in this passage to consider what hardships we have to endure for the sake of the Kingdom, and is asking us to reevaluate who our friends really are. Do they strengthen us or do they leave us for dead? Here He's giving us examples about how we should respond to persecution when it happens, and why suffering is necessary for strengthening our resolve just as it was done for St. Paul in this case. Whenever we are say "no" to a temptation to sin (sins that Christ's heart in us has revealed to us to be sins), we "suffer" the loss of temporary pleasure but we are baring the burden for the greater and eternal glory of the Kingdom. 

Also like St. Paul, we may have to deal with our own kind (other Childlovers) who are not Christian and who may not appreciate our lifestyle choices. They may ridicule us or make fun of us, or call us names. Some Childlovers delight in objectifying children, so we as Christian Childlovers will find ourselves becoming very unpopular when we start refusing to participate in such things (objectifying children), or when we instead insist on the fact that children should be valued for their God-given dignity. We're sure to hear their complaints against us then! But when we endure these temporary struggles, Christ says, we do so for the sake of the eternal Kingdom, and so we persevere for the greater good, which is the love and respect of children, which is also the love of Christ and His Kingdom. Christ is our ultimate example, describing the fact that Christians live in this world governed by evil, but are no part of it, and that evil in fact doesn't have "any power over Christ."
"I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me." JN 14:30-31
The evil one has "no power over" Christ why? Because Christ does "just as the Father commands." Do also you what the Father commands, and the evil one of this temporary world (the world that would condemn you and harass you) will have no power over you as well.

Grace and peace be with you. 

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