NINTH IN MY TEACHING SERIES ON THE BLESSED LIFE, BY TROY DOBBS
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 5:10
You might assume that those who embrace Christ’s vision for the blessed life would be accepted, applauded, and even celebrated by the world. But that is rarely the case.
Christ’s last beatitude prophetically tells us that the end game for living out the Beatitudes is not a parade thrown on our behalf, but rather a persecution for you righteous living.
Persecuted? Sign Me Up
The word “persecute” means to pursue an enemy. It means to chase, harass, vex, and pressure. In the New Testament, Saul — before he became Paul — persecuted Christians. He hunted them down and dragged them out of their homes, harassing and eventually murdering many for their faith in Christ. So, persecution can denote a violent physical attach or a personal attack with words in the form or slander, insults, hatred, or ostracism. Persecution obviously comes in varying degrees. Now — this is so important — Jesus says the cause of persecution is righteousness.
Kingdom Of Heaven
The term “kingdom” refers to teh territory or people over whom a king rules. By definition, then, this kingdom in the rule and reign of Jesus the King. So, to belong to the kingdom of heaven is to belong to the King. And those who are in Christ eagerly await His return and the establishment of his literal earthly kingdom.
Jesus bookends the Beatitudes with the reward of the kingdom of heave. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3, 10). This highlights that Jesus Christ and the kingdom of heaven are our greatest rewards and blessings!
In Christ, Persecution Is Normal
The interpretive progression of verses 10-12 goes like this: my righteous living fuels the world’s persecution. God then blesses my loyalty to Him (amidst persecution) by giving me joy and the promise of an ultimate reward, which inspires my continued righteousness. From this vantage point, persecution does not stop me; instead, God’s blessings inspire me to live the righteous Christian life. God’s reward is a gift of His grace, not something we’ve earned.
“Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Jesus Christ will be persecuted!” – Pastor Troy Dobbs
If you are in Christ, persecution is normal. In the church today, most people tend to think persecution is extreme and abnormal. The New Testament says otherwise. In fact, the only abnormality would be when persecution is absent from a person’s life. It’s absurd to think that suffering and persecution have no place in the life of a Christ-follower when the founder of the movement – Jesus himself – ended up nailed to a cross.
Perseverance Is The Goal
Every Christian needs to understand that the goal of Christianity is not to be a nice, popular person who never offends anybody. As a matter of fact, Jesus said in Luke 6:26: “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.”
“Antagonism is inevitable between a true Christian and the world… A true Christian ought to be a standing rebuke and conscience to the world.” – Alexander MacLaren
“Here’s the truth we need to live by: Christians are not a little different from the world — they are altogether different! Blessing is is not found in easiness, but in perseverance. When Jesus say, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you,” he means that, if you have never experienced suffering for the sake of your relationship with Jesus Christ, then you should examine your walk with Him. Maybe your not where you think you are with God.”Author Troy Dobbs
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