Scorned For the Faith
Whew, we made it. We are on the last beatitude, and it covers the serious subject of persecution. Do you wonder why Jesus brings up the issue now? We will find the answer to this in a bit. Let’s take a look at this passage.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom
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 has finished teaching his followers what it means to be a disciple and the qualities a disciple should have. They would naturally stand out and be misunderstood by possessing these qualities and would quite possibly be persecuted. This is why he saves the subject for last. Those still listening were most likely to be his whole-hearted followers, and Jesus wants them to know what could happen because of their faith in him.
The word for persecute is a Greek word that means to reproach or defame. It also means to rail at or revile. Jesus also indicated that it includes being lied about and being accused of telling lies. He made it clear that the world will hate His followers because they hate him. All throughout church history are records of Christians persecuted and martyred for their faith. Even today, Christians in the Middle-east, China, Korea, and other parts of the world have to meet in secret, can’t carry around with them a Bible, or speak up for their faith. Some are killed for professing to be Christians. Persecution is alive and well.
Living in the United States, we’ve had it easy. We have not experienced anything close to what our Christian brothers and sisters have experienced. However, I’m confident that will change. We are already seeing an intolerance towards Christianity in our country. So how do we as Christ-followers respond to what may soon be occurring?
First, rejoice. Yes, I realize that is the last thing someone wants to do when mocked for their faith, but Jesus said in verse twelve, “Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven. There is a special honor in heaven waiting for those who endure persecution.
Second, it builds our faith and character as Christians. It also helps to produce endurance. James 1:2-4 mentions this. Testing of our faith produces steadfastness or perseverance, patience under pressure. Someone who holds up under persecution demonstrates more character than their adversaries.
Finally, stand firm. Don’t be afraid to openly live out your faith in Jesus Christ and continue being a witness to those around you. Let your light shine.