Wednesday, 28 August 2019
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
If we live in the way that Jesus is telling us to, if we live for God and not man, then we will be persecuted. It’s not something that may happen. It will happen!
It could be the deliberate shunning by your neighbours, or an odd look and whispered conversation by your work colleagues, or the person who used to be a friend who doesn’t really want to spend time with you anymore. It could even mean physical violence.
Note that the verse doesn’t just say, “Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus focuses on persecution that is “for righteousness’ sake.” Not all persecution is for righteousness’ sake. Sometimes people are persecuted just for being weird. But Jesus is saying that his way of life will bring persecution to you.
Have you accepted that the life God wants for you will put you into some situations that are not pleasant and lovely and awesome, but embarrassing and difficult and painful? Jesus tells his disciples very plainly in John 15:20, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.”
That means you need to accept persecution as part of your choice to follow Jesus! When you speak about Jesus to people at work or at school, there will be some who are interested to talk more, but there are also some who will reject you or even make fun of you for it. Accept in your heart that this will happen, then make the choice, “Even though that will happen, I will be open about my relationship with Jesus.”
Here’s something that will make that choice easier: The kingdom of heaven is yours!
When you look at it in that perspective, how insignificant is a little bit of pain? When you have the kingdom of heaven as a reward, what is ten minutes of embarrassment, or even ten years of pain as a friend has left you? Compare that to 999,999,999,999,999 years in heaven! A little bit of godly perspective can make such a difference.
We think in the now. We worry about what will happen. Jesus is assuring us that no matter what happens, in the long run we have the kingdom of heaven waiting for us.
Write down what you are looking forward to most about heaven. Then think about your desire to avoid persecution by not openly honouring God in your life.