Today's message was based on Matt. 5:10-12, titled "Blessed are the Persecuted for His Righteousness." It is a difficult topic to accept, let alone to approve and endorse. Nonetheless, it is the Word of God that is good and truthful.
Who are persecuted? The believers who pursue to live the Kingdom life according to the Beautitudes are to be persecuted. The bible is pretty clear about this point.
"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him." (Phil. 1:29)
"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Tim. 3:12)
If we were to live a genuine Kingdom life that is evidencing the righteousness of God, then we will draw a reaction from the world. Why? Because the world hated our Lord Jesus Christ first and whoever is identifying himself/herself with Him will also be hated.
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." (John 15:18,19)
How are we persecuted? Matt. 5:11 lists three ways that the Kingdom citizens are to be persecuted. a) physical persecution: this includes torture, imprisonment. b) insult: verbal abuse with vicious and mocking words. Jesus was mocked on the cross by one of the robbers who were crucified next to Jesus. c) slander: verbal attack with unfounded, untruthful statements.
What is the reward for the persecuted? Those who are persecuted for the sake of God's righteousness are blessed because: 1) they belong to the Kingdom of God and 2) their reward will be great. No matter how hard we may feel about persecution, it is temporary and momentary. Meanwhile, the fruit of living a righteous life is eternal. Human life is like a blink of an eye compared to eternity. James 4:14 says that our life is like a mist that appears briefly in the morning and evaporates when the sun comes out. Time on earth, no matter how long, is far too short compared to eternity.
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Cor. 4:17,18)
"Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:17)
What should we do when persecution comes? We should do at least two things:
a. Be courageous and willing to be persecuted. Our own strength will fail to make us this courageous, but His strength will enable us to be bold and courageous.
b. Pray for those who persecute you. It will be a challenge for a normal person. Nonetheless, it is what the scripture says:
"Bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you." (Luke 6:28)
There is a price to pay when you live the Kingdom life in this wicked world. But we should trust Him and His promises. Although men may take away everything we posses in the world, they cannot touch what God will give us in the next life.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of the righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:10)
May this scripture immensely bless us all who are committing to living the Kingdom life no matter what the price may be. - Jeffrey