Blessed are the Persecuted
Whether we like it or not, there is conflict between the follower of Jesus and the world. We must expect to be persecuted if we are living as God wants us to live. But we can be sure our suffering is not due to our own foolishness or disobedience but for righteousness’ sake.
Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Blessed are those who are persecuted:
This is one of the most counterintuitive statements Jesus made. Mankind invented the prosperity gospel and yet here Jesus says the blessed; the ones who have experienced the abundance of God’s grace, are those who experience persecution. Many Christians in India have been attacked, beaten, and brought to court – you couldn’t meet more blessed people. Blessed, because they experienced the promises of God and His grace while He allowed them to be identified with His sufferings. Material possessions – they had very little but certainly blessed! Would you let God take away your possessions so you could experience His blessings?
Persecution is the inevitable consequence of Christ as life. The Bible doesn’t promise us a life of happiness. If our lives are centered in Christ and our pursuit is His kingdom there will be persecution. They persecuted Jesus and He did no wrong. If we allow Jesus, Who lives in us, to live through us the world will hate us as it hated in Him.
Persecution isn’t the object but the result. We aren’t twisted people who are looking for suffering. We are committed to following Jesus in every aspect. Jesus and His kingdom are the object of our life. He tells us, repeatedly, the result of that journey will be suffering. We have the promised “blessing” while suffering with and for our Lord. We serve a rejected Messiah.
1 Peter 3:14 “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”
1 Peter 4:14 “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.”
We think we are blessed because of the size of our houses and the kind of cars we drive. However, possessions can be burdens and yokes around our necks. We may look for blessings in the wrong places. The cross will never cease to be a symbol for derision and intense hostility.
Persecuted for righteousness’ sake:
We are not a blessed people by being obnoxious but by being a righteous. The source of our persecution should never be because of bad temperament, attitude, or ungodly actions but only the righteousness of Christ in us.
Persecution is evidence we are united to Jesus Christ. If we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, we can be certain the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts turning us from sin and sinful ways to Christ’s way. He is making progress in molding us into His sinless image.
Persecution grows the church. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Contrary to what we may think the church grows when it is persecuted. The church in China has grown under communism and its intense persecution. It is persecution that grows the church because only then is it focused on Jesus. Persecution is the constant and abiding inspiration of the church and we must never forget we follow a crucified Savior.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake
Persecution is reason to rejoice. The believer who is persecuted for following Jesus by allowing Him to live through him allows the fruit of the Spirit to flow freely flow. They can rejoice in their suffering.
Persecution is endured through love. Jesus calls us to persecution for righteousness sake for His sake, not our own. How do we face persecution and not run from it? How do we endure persecution and not compromise who we are? We do it for the love of a person; His name is Jesus. He endured it all for us and will live through us as we yield ourselves to Him.
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
There is also the promise of rewards. He tells us there is great reward in Heaven. They are likely to be spiritual fellowship with Christ and proximity to Him.
The kingdom of heaven is your reward. Even the reward itself is of grace. God treats us as his children. The kingdom is the reign of God. In heaven we have an eternal home, a place where there is no suffering or persecution and God’s will be done perfectly.
The Christian is one who should always be thinking of the end. That was the secret of those men in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Moses chose to suffer affliction. He had his eye on the end the recompense of the reward. We shall see Him as He is and worship in His glorious presence. Our very bodies will be changed and glorified with no sickness or disease. I’m thinking of heaven more these days. Together, let’s release the indwelling life of God in a dark work, come what may. He is our great reward!
You are loved!