Blessed Are the Persecuted
“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.” Matthew 5:11-12
Driving down the road I see multiple bumper stickers with sayings and symbols pointing to a lifewhere everyone can get along and “coexist.” I don’t mind the sentiment, and I appreciate the fact that in times of great political and social distress people want to “get along.” Is this realistic on a social level and furthermore, is this realistic for Christians and the world?
Do His words make sense?
Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 are quite astonishing. How can Jesus say such words about rejoicing and being glad while being persecuted? Either Jesus is an out of touch King looking down upon his lowly servants expecting blind loyalty or he knows something more joyous and wonderful than we could imagine here on earth.
What does it mean to be persecuted? Persecution (whether mild or severe) is the negative response a believer receives based on his or her devotion to Jesus Christ and His righteousness. A true devotion to Jesus will result in persecution. We must remember that the nature of God and sin are incompatible and will cause conflict and resistance. We must remember that Jesus experienced opposition and when we believe in Christ, we are inviting the very opposition that He faced. John 15:18 says “if the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
Before persecution causes your foundation to crack let’s look at a few of our rewards.
- We can rejoice and be glad because we inherit eternal life. John 10:28-30
- Our current sufferings will pale in comparison to the glory that will be revealed to us. Romans 8:18
- We get to dwell with God forever, receiving ultimate comfort and restoration. Revelation 21:3-5
Last week Matt preached on Matthew 13 and verse 17 gave me much hope because we are able to “see,” “hear,” and “understand” things that many prophets and righteous people longed to see. My hope is that many of you who do not know Christ and are afraid to believe because of what might be done to you see the reward far outweighs the consequence of persecution. Persecution will come and suffering is part of the Christian life, but the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord gives us hope and joy for what is to come.
I want to leave you with a quote that was smuggled from an underground church in Romania.
“We don’t pray to be better Christians, but that we may be the only kind of Christians God means us to be; Christ-like Christians; that is, Christians who will bear willingly the cross for God’s glory.”