9.25.14 5:13 In bed
Father God, thank you forgiving me life and another day to dive into your word. As I focus on today’s devotion, the last of the Beatitudes, I humbly ask for your guidance.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Wretched are the uncommitted for convenience’s sake, for their destination is hell.
If anyone thinks Jesus teaches a health and wealth gospel, they should read carefully these Beatitudes! This last one tops it off, suggesting that we will be persecuted. Jesus further clarifies this in Matthew 5:11 by stating: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me”.
If I live according to the Beatitudes, if I live a transformed life, people are going to take notice. As a Christian I am called to live a life different from the rest of the world. This was true in Roman culture and it is true today. People should know I am a Christian, not because I wear a cross, or say that I am, but because of the way I live. But as long as I am living differently, people are going to take notice, and they will not all be encouraged by my faith. I will be challenged, I will be left out of things, I will loose Facebook friends, and I will be called a close-minded intolerant bigot. And in fact I have experienced all of these things. If the world persecuted Jesus I should expect nothing less than it should persecute me for imitating Him. Deitrich Bohnhoeffer, the German Lutheran pastor who was imprisoned and later sent to a Nazi concentration camp for very vocally opposing Hitler’s genocidal ideology, understood this well. In persecution he said:
“Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer. In fact it is a joy and a token of his grace”.
And this is a man who suffered and was persecuted for not backing down on the Truth. Look at the apostles, martyred for not backing down from the Truth. Paul writes letters while he is in prison and knows he is going to be executed, yet he has this unwavering hope. I can find courage in that, I need to find courage in that. I have this desire that people like me, so much so that I often I don’t say what is on my mind in order not to offend anyone. But the Truth is always offensive to those not living in it, even if I speak it in love. I don’t have to agree with someone in order to love them, in order to make peace with them, and I shouldn’t be afraid if they don’t like me. I should be afraid if God doesn’t like me. And if I can recognize that I don’t always follow these Beatitudes, then I can be certain an omniscient God knows.
When persecution comes what should I do? In Matthew 5:12 Jesus further tells me that I should “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you”.
The more I am attacked and the more I am persecuted, the more I know I am speaking truth. The enemy wouldn’t attack me if I wasn’t a threat. Yes, it is scary, but it is God’s will, and as I have stated before; there is no safer place.
Lord, thank you for this study on the Beatitudes! I pray that I can reflect on them and understand them more throughout my studies, and I ask that you transform me to your will. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!