As long as people have no reason to believe we are Christians, at least obedient and righteous Christians, we need not worry about persecution.”
Question: When you think about people being persecuted for being a Christian, what do you think of?
Some of us think of people in China or places where it’s illegal to be a Christian
And some of us think of maybe a time when we were made fun of for being a Christian.
But I would wager a bet that most of us also think of Christians of old, like the apostles, or Christians that lived back in that time, as the people who had to deal with persecution
Meaning, that we kind of think persecution is an outdated thing
That the words of Jesus in don’t really apply to us today....and here’s what he says:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 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.”
See, I think we read these verses and we’re like, “You know what God, you can keep the persecution, and I assure you I’ll be just as happy without it.”
Or, I’ll take one order of kingdom of heaven, hold the persecution
But what I want us, what I want you to see today is this:
By avoiding persecution we are essentially trying to fit back into the very world Christ saved us out of
Paul tells us in , “Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
See, when we act like Christ it will produce the same outcome that it did for the Christians of old, or those in China, or that of Jesus…persecution.
Persecution is one of the greatest evidences of a life changed by Christ.
“As long as people have no reason to believe we are Christians, at least obedient and righteous Christians, we need not worry about persecution.”
And so it just stands to reason that if we never ever have experienced ridicule, rejection, or any form of persecution, then the realness of your faith may be in question.
So you have to ask yourself, and be honest…when have you ever been persecuted for your faith?
Now, notice verse 11 with me, Jesus says “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you...”
That word when there is translated more appropriately as whenever
Which I want to point out to you because it is a word of hope to us as believers who are told we will be persecuted
What Jesus is saying is that yes you will face persecution but it more often than not won’t be constant
Jesus isn’t saying that you must be facing persecution 24/7....Jesus himself didn’t face persecution 24/7...
What he’s saying is we will face times of persecution
And when those times come…Jesus tells us to rejoice and be glad…which is insane, but we’ll get there in a minute
And when we have times of peace and rest as a believer, rejoice and be glad
Rejoice & Be Glad
Rejoice & Be Glad
So, if you think back through all the Beatitudes we have looked at…there have been some head scratchers right?
Happy are the sad in verse 4
Happy are those who put Jesus over food and water
Happy are the poor
But I think today’s takes the cake
Rejoice and be glad when you face all kinds of evil, when you are persecuted, when you are reviled
Rejoice and be glad
When things start going wrong, or going badly, or everything feels against you…what is our first response?
We retreat....we hide…we try to distance ourselves from whatever is going wrong
But what does Jesus say? He says to rejoice and be glad
Right....that’s not exactly a natural response is it?
That’s because it’s a supernatural response that can only be manifested through a relationship with Jesus Christ
That’s why James says the same thing in chapter 1, “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds”
Jesus said we will face persecution. But He also says that our response should be one of rejoicing
Now, why do you think that is the response we should have as believers?
It tells the world that our hope is not in flesh and blood
It tells the world that our joy is not rooted in circumstances
It tells the world that our lives are no longer our own
Think about Jesus as He was being beaten and mocked and ridiculed and hung on a cross
No hiding, no retreating, no swinging back
We are to be the same way
A few verses down Jesus says this, “In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven”
And why do we rejoice? Because our rewards is in Heaven, and it will be great!
You know, a lot of people often wonder about assurance of salvation. Anyone in here ever asked that:
How can I know for sure I’m a Christian
Well, the truth to that answer is not a pleasant one from a human perspective
Are you persecuted for your faith in Jesus Christ
He said that He was persecuted, so we too would be persecuted
Verse 12 told us that just like the prophets of old we too would be persecuted
How can I know I’m a Christian…am I being persecuted like one?
Does that mean we go looking for persecution, no!
But trust me, you don’t need to
And guys, let me tell you, this beatitude has really challenged and cut me to the core, because I can go back a long way in my life to get to a point where I’ve been persecuted for my faith!
And I believe that the same is probably true for a lot of us
But the truth of the matter is that if we are Christians, and if we are growing in our relationship with Christ, and therefore becoming more like Christ, then our lives should/will be impacted in similar ways
Don’t believe the lie that just because we live in America where we are “free” to practice religion that we are able to avoid persecution
It’s just not true
And if the other Beatitudes we have looked at are true of your life, then persecution will be following
Because the world hates Christ
So if you are avoiding persecution, can I ask you why?
If your worldly comfort is more important to you than your relationship with Christ…you need to have a heart check
Let Christ flip your world upside down…it will be painful, yes, but it will be the most joyful decision of your life
For great will be your reward in Heaven.