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Blessed are the percsecuted (Part 10)

Matthew‬ ‭5:10‬ -12

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


This is a very interesting beatitude because it offers a take on persecution that you don’t hear every day. It’s difficult to wrap your head around the thought of, not only readily accepting persecution, but actually rejoicing in it. Other than a masochist, I don’t know too many people who get all that thrilled about pain, suffering and persecution. But, come to think of it, how many of these beatitudes offer up the kind of life that people are standing in line to live? Nevertheless, Jesus puts it right out there in front of us.  If you truly want to live a fulfilled, blessed life, this is how you will have to live it.


To sort of unpack this, we need to look at the WHO and WHY of persecution. When we feel persecuted, the tendency is to put a name, or a face, or even a situation on it. We think it makes it much simpler if we do so. We then can battle against an enemy that we can see. But, in John 15:18, Jesus gives us a picture of the source of persecution;

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

Later in this scriptural text, Jesus uses words like “people” or “they” to describe this world. In other places, He brings Satan into the picture. Paul did not put a name or face on his struggle, but said it was a “messenger sent from Satan to buffet me.” When we think that the neighbor or the boss is our adversary, we have taken a spiritual battle and made it a physical one. That way we can see the enemy and determine our strategy to fight against them. But I see nothing like that in the words of Jesus, or of Paul.


‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”


If we think that our struggle is coming from a physical source, we do not understand the scope or power of what we are facing. It is possible to win in our physical struggle, yet because of our lack of focus, loose the actual battle. When you face persecution, do not see the face of the one standing in front of you, but look beyond them and see the true source.


The WHY of persecution is clear, but not easily grasped. The scripture is very concise as to why the world hates us, but it is still difficult to understand all the underlying ramifications. There are many times when the world comes after us for seemingly no reason. At that point the “why” gets lost in the noise, and our response is “I did nothing to deserve this.” Welcome to the life of Jesus!

‭John‬ ‭17:14‬ ‭

“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”


“Because they are not of the world.” There it is. Do you hear what that’s saying? It’s not personal, it’s not that you’re an unlikable person, it’s not because of something you did or didn’t do. It’s an oil and water thing, more appropriately, a light and darkness thing. If you are facing genuine persecution, it’s because you are a child of God and are trying to live your life righteously.


When we live our lives that way, there will be a backlash from the forces of this world. They are living their lives in darkness because their deeds are evil, and there sins are shrouded by the darkness. So when illuminating light (righteousness)is introduced, there is a sharp reaction, because they are exposed. Why else would a perfect, sinless Jesus be offered up to the cross; because He was light. Jesus, in no uncertain terms, said that we should expect to be persecuted. It should come as no surprise to us. But let’s just make sure it’s for the right reasons. ‭‭


Now, there is a disclaimer added to this beatitude; “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”


‭‭Here’s where it gets interesting. The next few things that I say will be rather blunt and to the point, and maybe even rude. If you’re sensitive or thin skinned, you may want to skip the next paragraph or so. Rejoin us later, if you wish. However, I offer no apologies.


When we say or do stupid things in the name of Christ,  and His Church, and get blow back from the world, that is not persecution “for righteousness’ sake.” That is persecution for stupidities sake.


Things like the crusades, the inquisition, the Salem witch trials, were all done in the name of Christ, but had nothing to do with His purpose or will for His church. The persecution that has come out of that may be deserved because we gave up the true voice of the church to unspiritual institutions and they prostituted it’s message and


sacredness. Don’t be deceived, many of those voices are still out there, and will bring undo persecution to the true church.


I’ve seen church organizations that have miserably mishandled the work of God’s church, and even the churches message, for personal gain. Then when they got  caught cheating and lying, they used the persecution card. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked.”


We cannot confuse “for righteousness’ sake” with fanaticism, lack of wisdom, ill spiritedness or just plain stupidity. If they come back on us for those reasons, we are not being persecuted, we are getting payback.


I abhor abortion. There is no possible way to justify the killing of a baby. But if we break the law, destroy property or even take life to make our position known, and end


up in jail, we cannot claim that we are being persecuted “for righteousness sake.”

I encourage you to live your life in righteousness and let it unfold as it will. Jesus is our constant companion.


Earlier in the beatitudes we are told to ”hunger and thirst for righteousness”, now we're told that righteousness brings persecution. Well, He never said it would be easy. But, it will be worth it.


Let me leave you with a blessed hope from scripture that speaks of what our response should be and then God’s faithfulness through it all.


Matthew‬ ‭10:16‬ ‭

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”


‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:14‬ ‭

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”


‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:17‬ ‭

“if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”


‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:8-10‬ ‭

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”


Matthew‬ ‭5:10‬ -12

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”




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