Genesis 13-15 Matthew 5:1-26
“People will insult you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do, you will be blessed. Rejoice and be glad, because you have a great reward waiting for you in heaven. People did the same evil things to the prophets who lived before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12 NCV)
The Sermon on the Mount was an amazing teaching experience. Jesus began His teaching with the Beatitudes. As Jesus talked about the difficulties that people deal with, He mentioned the blessings that accompanied the problem. He added a twist to some of those problems: poverty became poverty of spirit; hunger and thirst became a hunger and thirst for justice. In each case though, Jesus taught about how God works in that situation to bring blessings in difficult times. When He got to persecution, though, He elaborated. Perhaps He did that as a warning because most of us can deal with those previous issues. They happen. But persecution is a horrendous picture of man’s hatred towards man (and God). Hatred is hard to fathom. Why is it that people will do terrible things to other people, and then think that they’re doing God a favor? Jesus doesn’t answer that question. He just tells us that it’s coming, and that when it does, it will be a reminder that we’re being true to our faith.
We haven’t had to face severe persecution in the United States. We all know that. There are rumblings that our faith, which has enjoyed a de facto “favored” status in America, is falling out of favor. I don’t know that that’s necessarily a bad thing, since Christianity flourishes in the midst of persecution. If we are no longer a “favored” religion, that will force us to examine our priorities: which is more important? Our faith or our status as Americans. While I don’t look forward to persecution, I’ll be ready for it because my relationship with Christ is the most important thing in my life.
Lord, keep me in Your love and grace. Whether I face persecution or not, let my faith stay strong and be a witness to other people of who You are.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.