Thursday, July 25, 2013

Suffering Persecution

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

All of you who are Christians and have chosen to happily be persecuted for your faith, line up on this side of the room.  The rest of you which are not willing to suffer persecution, form a line on the other side of the room.   In which line have you placed yourself?

I will be the first to admit that persecution is not a happy thought for me.  I would hope that I would do everything for myself and my family to prevent it.  However, if we read the Bible correctly, there are statements made in its pages which indicate being persecuted because of righteousness is something that could happen to each of us. 

Some will read the beatitudes and confess they have no problem trying to be meek or merciful, pure in heart or poor in spirit, but the thought of actually being persecuted causes them to take another look at wearing the name of Jesus.  God wants each of the attributes in our lives, and wants us to rise above the rest of the world in our righteous example of his principles. 

One article I read recently describes it like this:  The beatitudes are reaching the very core of what it means to be a follower of Christ. The true follower is one that is totally sold out to living a life for the Lord. 

If we are that devoted in giving our all to following Jesus, then we will gladly step up to suffer persecution for our faith. In our country, we will probably not suffer physical persecution, but the ridicule and criticism that exists these days, borders closely the description of being persecuted for our faith.  We must also remember there are places on our globe where people who profess allegiance to God will bring immediate death.

The beatitude under consideration today assures us those who are persecuted because of righteousness, the kingdom of heaven is theirs.  Think for a moment of all the beatitudes being the instructions of Jesus for those who choose to follow him. Each one is progressively linked to those that follow.  As we get to the end of the list, we have been instructed by the Lord as to what our lives should be like.  We then get to the last one and it comes, not only with the blessing of the kingdom of heaven, but informs us we might have to suffer persecution. 

The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Roman Christians, says, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  Romans 8:18

That's what Jesus is wanting us to know in this beatitude. Whatever suffering and persecution we may encounter, those faithful to him will join him in his kingdom. 


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