Blessed Are the Persecuted
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” More of Jesus’ unlikely words, but I would like to add a resounding, “Amen.”
Now I have a confession to make. I wanted to write about the first few beatitudes, and I wanted to write about this one. Some of the ones in between just didn’t interest me as much. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they don’t challenge me as much. Though this beatitude doesn’t actually challenge me; it comforts me as do all my other favorites. I guess it would be most accurate to say some of the beatitudes comfort me more than others.
I have been persecuted for the sake of my faith in Christ before. Not in any way equal to my siblings in the above picture; but on a smaller scale, yes, I have. I am really glad because when you are persecuted for the sake of Christ, it sends you running right into His arms. I love the blessing which follows this beatitude, “Blessed are you when people persecute you, insult you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Sometimes I wish I would get persecuted more. I would really like to be more like Elijah or Isaiah or Jeremiah, especially because I can tend to be more of a Jonah. I think it is super cool to be in such a premier league of people, so I do sometimes miss being persecuted as much as I sometimes have been.
As I have contemplated this beatitude over the last eight months, I have realized something. Scripture does say that we are blessed when we are persecuted because of our faith in Christ. It does say we are blessed when we are insulted and slandered for the same reason. It does NOT say we are blessed when there is division in the Church.
This beatitude does not apply when the brothers and sisters of Christ slander me. When they slander me, the epistles have choice words to say about that. Gossip, slander, grumbling, etc. etc… are not good. The apostles weren’t a fan.
I am not blessed when I am treated poorly by His people. They are not blessed when they are treated poorly by me. That is just painful. That is the kind of pain that is not good. God can still use it for good, but I don’t think this beatitude applies to that kind of situation. I think it applies to the other kind.
Persecution is amazing because it makes choosing Jesus such a clear choice. That He is worth it all becomes a startlingly obvious reality. It is walked in. It is chosen. The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are persecuted for His sake. I believe it. Being persecuted is amazing.
It is much better than flattery. I had a person flatter me recently. Later I was telling one of my friends about the experience, and I wanted so badly to use a different word. It would have been so cool to believe that the words this person said about me were true. I don’t think anyone in my entire life has said such nice things to me. Not even the people who have loved me for thirty years, and it is not because they have not given me words of affirmation. They simply are not willing to lie to me that badly. I “checked with the Spirit” so to speak as I was talking to my friend. “Can I call it a compliment, God?” “No, it wasn’t a compliment. It was flattery. You really aren’t all that.”
Persecution is so much better than flattery. Flattery says you are all that. Persecution helps you realize He is worth all that.
“Blessed are you when people persecute you, insult you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
“Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet.” Proverbs 29:5
Better is a lifetime of persecution than a day of flattery.