The Persecuted

Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Bullying” has become a fashionable target for social activists. Jesus would be against it, too. But he wants his people to be prepared for it.

In these words he has a particular kind of bullying in mind, the kind that comes because we want to live a Christian life and believe Christian beliefs. In order to make sure we understand the connection to our faith, he explains further, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” He isn’t saying we need to go looking for this kind of treatment. He isn’t suggesting we should make a campaign to stop it. He is saying that we can expect it, and that we are blessed in spite of it, if we are seeking to follow him.

Why blessed? Two reasons– one: “…because great is your reward in heaven.” How people treat you here doesn’t change how God will treat you there. The same good gifts are waiting for us just the same. There is no use changing our faith to stop the persecution when heaven is waiting with Christian faith, and lost without it.

Two, this kind of treatment puts us in good company: “…for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” People criticizing our beliefs, mocking our lifestyle, even calling them evil is a pretty good sign that we are on the right track. Abel, Noah, Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, Jesus, and his disciples all got the same kind of treatment. It is an honor and blessing to share their faith and its consequences for Jesus’ sake. Today it may be persecution. Tomorrow it will be heaven.

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