For good reason, the world seems like a big, hungry monster, hell-bent on the destruction of the disciple of Christ. In America, religious freedom is under attack. Traditional Marriage, and the nuclear family are being eradicated by impostors inspired by false-inclusiveness, based on anti-Christian values. Human life is denigrated as unborn Americans die every day for the supreme popular value of comfort and convenience.
In Europe, and other parts of the 'first' world, Christianity is nothing more than a historic relic; a relic hid under a 'bushel basket' out of embarrassment when gathered in socialistic, secularist, and atheistic circles. And this is why Islam is swallowing Europe.
In the rest of the world, in much of the 'third' world, Christianity is flourishing in spirit, but dying in the physical body, as Christians by the thousands die of violent persecution every day.
All of us seek to survive the societal storm, but from His Cross, through the witness of centuries of martyrs, Jesus summons us to thrive!
"Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation..." James 1:12-18
Personally, I prefer the 'stand firm' of the Jerusalem Bible to the 'perseveres' version. 'Stand firm' is exactly what God wants from us when the popular culture, secularism, militant atheism, Islamic terrorism, and demonic influences attack us from all sides. Jesus doesn't want us to strike back with a fist, or a foul mouth, for He never did. Likewise, He does not want us to run and hide, or behave like Judas and become a 'turncoat.' This He also never did.
What He would rather have us do, in the strength of His grace, is stand firm in the faith...even if it means dying on the Cross, like He did for us.
"Blessed the man whom you instruct, O LORD, whom by your law you teach, Giving him rest from evil days." Psalm 94:12-15, 18-19
So how do we thrive?
By accepting everything laid out for us by Jesus in the Apostolic fullness of the faith. First, in receiving the Eucharist, wed to participation in sacramental confession, we receive, in Him, the foundation of our standing firm, or thriving; for the Eucharist is the 'source and summit' of our Christian faith in Jesus Himself, truly present in sacramental form. Second, we need to spend more than a paltry few minutes on the words of Sacred Scripture. Remember, St. Jerome said, 'Ignorance of Scripture, is ignorance of Christ.' Thirdly, we must embrace the Holy Spirit in prayer--personal and communal--and exercise our faith in daily acts of virtue and charity, no matter how small they may seem.
"Jesus enjoined them, 'Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.'” Mark 8:14-21
Finally, thriving in Christ is living the paradox of dying to oneself, and dying to the fading ideologies and 'principalities and powers' of the world. Jesus must be the only voice in our head, and the only desire in our hearts.
This is easier said than done. This, truth be told, is never perfectly accomplished this side of the grave!
Yet, we must continue to strive for this, constantly, in rejecting the Pharisees of political correctness, the Pharisees of the culture of death, and the Pharisees of popular hedonism and materialism. We must, moreover, keep Jesus as King of our heart, and our family, by rejecting the Herod's of politics and entertainment--for they aim at enslaving us in the mere survival of their passing regimes and ideologies.
Remember, only in Jesus Christ can we thrive.
P.S. Please pray for this writing ministry.