“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 5:10 (ESV)
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Per·se·cu·tion (noun) : hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs. synonyms: oppression, victimization, maltreatment, ill-treatment, mistreatment, abuse,ill-usage, discrimination, tyranny
Christ wants you to know and trust Him. And this will forever be tied with persecution.
He uses good times to bless you, hard times to show you He still holds you, and the ever more prevalent normal times to show His consistency in your life. Each phase will show you an aspect of His love for you and His drawing you closer to Himself.
Every circumstance in your life is an opportunity. An opportunity to choose to trust His plan for your life. It is becoming more uncomfortable these days to claim Christ as your father, friend, and savior. And that is a good thing.
James puts it this way “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (1:3).
In today's world, we are entering into a cultural swing away from Christian values in America where it is no longer comfortable to use scripture to justify what you believe or say. People no longer hold the validity of God's Word as something intrinsically true and honorable.
It is evident in the hundreds of emails my grandma has flooded my inbox with where she rants about the fact that America is no longer a Christian Nation. A list of things that include: the absence of the mention of God in our political debates, the procedure of swearing on the bible being abandoned in our courts, the banning of prayer in our schools…and so on. And your Grandma may have the same list.
But the fact is that Christ knows we will all face persecution no matter the level of cultural acceptance we live in. Especially if you know, trust, and follow Him truly. Throughout life, you will either be thought of as curious or hated because of what you hold true.
But Matthew 5:10 brings us encouragement in the face of what society thinks about believers. It doesn’t matter what we face on this earth, because Heaven is our true home.
There are so many verses in the bible that show and promise us the prize for living a life that is in right standing with God. Yet, I think Hebrews 12 does an incredible job of fleshing out today's beatitude.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." -Hebrews 12:1-3
Christ wants you to know and trust Him; trusting the power of His Grace and walking forward with boldness into life’s circumstances with Him by your side.
Persecution helps us to do this. Where conflict seems to push people away, it can often be the best place for intimacy to be found.
But we do not allow ourselves to embrace it. We do not like to admit that persecution is actually happening. But in doing so, we withhold any Godly reaction from being expressed - the reactions of peace, love, and endurance.
The world does not need us to deny the reality of persecution, they need us to endure it; to press on through it. And we press on because our perfecter is standing before us. We press on because of all that He endured. We press on because of the joy implanted within us.
On the other side of it all, we are promised the Kingdom of Heaven where we no longer live in the kingdom of darkness. And this brings me much more peace than the emails my grandmother loves to send me.
Today, let us meet persecution with endurance. Let us press on with our eyes fixed upon Jesus.
[guest writer, James Mix]