The Burden Of The Christian

If I practice random acts of kindness,
am I unkind, most of the time?

Yes, but who can judge me,

If my mind can’t understand,
why it weighs heavy on my heart?

Spanish Translation

¿Si practico actos aleatorios de amabilidad,
Soy cruel la mayoria del tiempo?

¿Sí, pero quién me puede culpar,

Si mi mente no puede entender
Por qué me pesa en mi corazón?

Por: ElRoyPoet © 2021

Please click on graphic to play video
Please click on graphic to play video

“Have you found yourself irritable, sad or close to tears when watching the news lately? If so, you are not alone. Experiencing empathy has its benefits, but there are also many downsides to it, which is why we must learn to practice healthy empathy.
Empathy is an ability to sync emotionally and cognitively with another person; it is a capacity to perceive a world from their perspective or share their emotional experiences. It is essential for building and maintaining relationships, as it helps us connect with others at a deeper level. It is also associated with higher self-esteem and life purpose.
There are broadly two types of empathy: cognitive empathy and emotional empathy. Emotional empathy is about sharing feelings with others to the extent that you may experience pain when watching someone in pain, or experience distress when watching someone in distress. This is what happens to many people when they watch upsetting news on TV, especially when they relate to specific people and their lives.
But emotional empathy isn’t just about experiencing negative emotions. Empathetic people may experience an abundance of positivity when watching other people’s joy, happiness, excitement, or serenity and can get more out of music and other daily pleasures.
While this emotional contagion is suitable for positive states, having too much empathy when watching people suffer can be very upsetting and even lead to mental health problems. Too much empathy towards others, especially when we prioritize other people’s emotions over our own, may result in experiences of anxiety and depression…” Excerpt from An Excess of Empathy Can Be Bad for Your Mental Health

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Bible, John 16:33

“You’re probably familiar with Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ theory, but did you know he also authored a ‘sympathy hypothesis?’ He observed that it took sympathy—what we now call compassion—to raise children, create flourishing communities and turn the human race into the civilization we know today.
Empathy and compassion are both integral parts of the human condition, passed down through evolution to help us survive. Observing suffering activates the parts of our brain associated with threat detection and nurturing. It also affects the vagus nerve, which controls the heart and lungs, and the reward centers of the brain. Performing acts of kindness actually give us ‘hits’ of pleasure chemicals.” Excerpt from: A guide to empathy and compassion

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Mathew 11:29-30

“The Christian finds himself today thrown into a strange and difficult world, full of peril and anxiety. He knows Christ, he believes in Him, and he cannot forget what He has done for him in his own life. On the basis of this knowledge and faith he seeks to understand and to adjust to the terrible questions and uncertainties of the times. He knows it is unworthy of him as a Christian to bewail his fate and exaggerate the challenges in the midst of which he is thrown. Dangerous world?—yes. Unprecedented difficulties?—certainly. Tremendous challenges?—of course. But God does not love him less, nor has He singled him out for trial in a special furnace beyond his power to bear or to subdue. He remembers what Paul told the Corinthians and he understands it to be meant exactly for him: ‘God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.’ I Corinthians 10:13 Every age has its own problems, every age its own burdens and complexities, and throughout man is fundamentally the same, able to know and rest in the truth or to rebel, and the devil precisely the same old adversary, with his sweetness and his wiles, and of course ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.’ Hebrews 13:8
But if man and the devil and Christ are the same in every age, still every man lives in his own age and in no other, and faces his own problems and carries his own cross which no other man can possibly face or carry for him. We have this one life to live which is absolutely unique and absolutely our own. This is not the decaying Athenian world in which Socrates would rather die than adjust to, nor the Roman world at its highest splendor which Paul had to contend with and utilize in the service of the Gospel, nor this same world at its last gasp for which Augustine wrote the epitaph in his magnificent City of God, nor the Hellenistic world at Antioch to which Chrysostom preached his inimitable homilies, nor the rotten world of the eleventh century at the time of the Great Schism between East and West, nor the exuberant world of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries when limitless horizons began to beckon the energies of men, nor the world of the nineteenth century when Western Europe held under its sway virtually all mankind. We are not called upon to live in any of these worlds, although our indebtedness to the great scholars who actually live in thought in them and lovingly reproduce them to us is incalculable. But even these our benefactors see and interpret the past from the only vantage point accessible to them, namely, from this one common world to which they and we belong. Every man must work out his own destiny, meet his own fate, carry his own burden, come to terms with himself and with God, from within the one and unique world into which he has been flung.
What, then, is the burden of the Christian today, the Christian who, as a man, shares the same humanity with David and Socrates and Paul and Augustine, this very humanity over which the devil and Jesus Christ are engaged in eternal combat, and yet who must carry on this warfare of the soul in this very age, the age of the cold war and the nuclear bomb, the age of the infinite wonders of science, and the age in which every people on earth is demanding as never before the right to some place under the sun?
Before I endeavor to answer this question I must first say one word about the essence of the Christian, for we are speaking here, not of the burden of the American or the European or the capitalist or the wage earner, but the burden of the Christian. We are assuming the existence of a distinct being called ‘the Christian’.
The Christian is defined by a kind of love: the Christian loves Jesus Christ above everything else. This love is not an ordinary act of the will on his part, as for instance when we decide to read a book or to take a trip abroad or to attend a meeting or to pay a visit to a friend. The dawning of Christ’s love is not something we conjure up ourselves. We love Jesus Christ only when we realize how much He loved us, and indeed loved us without first seeking or receiving our consent. Thus our love of Jesus Christ is a pale reflection of His love for us.
Beyond every burden and care, the Christian has his own soul to worry about. Oh yes, he is honest and upright, he works hard, he reads the Bible, he meditates on the saints, he has his times of profound prayer and retreat to the depths, he lives an active Church life, he takes an humble part in the stirring spiritual movements of the day, he is alive to the problems of the world, he is as good and solid a citizen as any other person, and, above all, he develops ulcers, those peculiar stigmata of our age! But, is he the master of his own passions? How much does he know the living power of God in his own life—that power which is much more than the daimon of Socrates which only warns and forbids, that power which also directs and constitutes and provides? Is he at peace with himself? Is he true to himself? Is he true to Christ? How much does Christ come to his rescue exactly in time? In his daily wrestlings with the devil, does he spit in his face and trample his head under foot—not in his own power, but always in the power of the Cross? Has he forgiven his brother— really forgiven him? Is all rancor and resentment washed away by the blood of Christ? How else can he hope for the forgiveness of God of which he stands in such desperate need?
Beyond every other care and worry, the Christian carries these questions on his mind all the time, and with them he transcends his turbulent age and becomes one with all ages in which the same ultimate questions tormented the saints. It is reconciliation and peace with God that he craves for more than anything else. It is that life of closeness to God, that intimacy of living with Christ, that mighty infusion of the Holy Ghost, which is absolute light, absolute certainty, absolute power. In this state which he craves for, which he believes in, which he confidently expects, having been promised it by One who does not lie, the Christian attains that divine sophia in which the tongue is untied and from which everything else flows. The Christian has a foretaste of this even in this life. There is then courage, there is communion, there is peace, there is the fellowship of the pure, of those who have seen God.
Now our present life is interesting and let no one belittle its duties and challenges and excitements. Moreover, these are great days and what is being decided in them is absolutely historic. But all these things are going to pass, and with them life itself. What, then, is the life that does not pass, what, then, is life eternal? This is the first and last question. And all I know is that I am told and I believe that ‘And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.’ John 17:3 Excerpt from Christ and Crisis by: Charles Malik

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