Read: Matthew 5:1-12
Consider: I would surmise that if you’ve been following this series on the Beatitudes you will have a desire to live a Christian life characterised by the virtues we have considered so far. We come to a Beatitude, together with the next, that most of us would rather avoid. Persecution is not something that any of us seek out or desire.
The core of this Beatitude is that persecution will come to us as Christians because we live God’s way in a world that rejects God. It was true when Jesus said it, when Paul wrote about it and is still true today. Believing the Bible to be God’s inspired word, accepting it as the supreme rule of life, is increasingly being seen as extreme by society and Christians are being demonised in the media and by society.
We have considered righteousness in a number of previous posts and most recently in the Beatitudes ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness’.
Living distinctively as a Christian will bring us into conflict with a world that doesn’t understand why we would want to order our lives in God’s way. We must remember that the previous Beatitude ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ encourages us to be a settling influence in conflict situations. Does this role of peacemaker not sit in opposition to being persecuted? None of us would willingly subject ourselves to persecution, but when it happens we have a choice to make about how we choose to respond. We can either respond positively, or negatively.
After the Beatitudes and still part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told his followers to love their enemies (see Matthew 5 and Luke 6). In Luke 6:27-31 he says: But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Pray: Father, help us to be willing to take a firm stand for you, even when it leads us into situations where society will vilify us for our beliefs. Amen