Matthew R. Perry

Happy Are The Persecuted, For a Kingdom Awaits

In Church Life, Sermons on April 30, 2008 at 9:13 pm

Matthew 5:10-12 says:

“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.

Jesus now shows what will happen to the “peacemakers” who try to bring others to Christ: persecution. And notice that Jesus doesn’t spend just one verse on this topic, but three. Why? Because of what Paul says in 2 Tim. 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” If you live for Jesus, opposition will come.

Some feel they are being persecuted at work, at home, etc. But there is a difference between getting persecuted and being persecuted for righteousness sake or, as it says in Matthew 5:11, on his account. He is speaking of persecution as a result of radically living for Christ. The world may persecute, but the church may as well because many may feel threatened and guilty seeing you live a life of mercy and purity and sharing your faith. Some just can’t handle it, so they try to drag that person down to their level rather than imploring God help them rise up to a level of sacrificial obedience.

Jesus is saying there are many ways to be persecuted. Some said it was just torture, but even spoken words of evil, insults, ridicule, mockery and shameful behavior may come our way as well. Jesus was not just persecuted by those who jammed the crown of thorns on his head or drove the nails in his hands. He was persecuted by Peter who denied him and Judas who betrayed him and by his disciples who abandoned him.

The truth is, we as Christians do our best to avoid persecution. We cannot stand having anyone say anything against us for any reason. My question to you is this: are you being persecuted and ridiculed and mocked and insulted for your faith? If you are, Jesus says, rejoice and be glad. See how contrary the Kingdom of God is to the kingdom of this world? Why rejoice? Because the reward you have in heaven is great! You are identifying with the prophets.

You see, being merciful, being pure and holy, being a peacemaker has a price. And however much you are willing to sacrifice in your life in Christ will be in direct proportion to how much you treasure Jesus Christ. So we must examine ourselves and test ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) and ask, Is the life I’m living so given over to Christ that the world takes umbrage? Do we give people a reason to persecute us for the sake of Christ?

May God shine the white hot light of His Spirit on us to see if we are living as a child of the King!

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