Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted: Really? We Are Supposed to Be Happy?

Posted: December 16, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Luke 6:20-23 — Today we reach the final verse in this passage. Jesus says, “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on the account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” Is Jesus saying that it’s cool to be the outcast? Is He saying that we should seek to be hated? C’mon now JC? I can understand how we will be ridiculed, vilified, and maybe even tortured physically for having believed in you. We have seen it throughout history and it occurs even today throughout the world. That part I can buy. But to be happy about it, now that is a stretch don’t ya think?

I think that what Jesus is saying here is about the difference between action and inaction, about princples and compromises, about making a difference and not making a difference. I think what Jesus is trying to say here is that he knows that his disciples will be facing all kinds of persecution after he returns to Heaven. He is trying to get them to see that basically, if you are being persecuted, you must be doing your job. Through the centuries from that day, Jesus speaks to us in the same way.

Jesus certainly doesn’t want us to be persecuted for believing in Him but it is inevitable in a world that continues to reject his message of honest love for your fellow man and service to others. Thus, if people marginalize us, ridicule us, ostracize us, take things away from us, torture us, kill us for what we believe in, then, we must have been fairly public about it. Then if we have demonstrated our faith and have not hidden it, we have done what Christ did and the persecuted prophets before him. Christ was not afraid of the consequences of demonstrating his love of his fellow man regardless of station in life. He was not afraid of saying that things are not right in the eyes of God and preaching for change. He was not afraid to challenge us to be like our Father. He was not afraid to make us uncomfortable in doing so. Thus, if we have been persecuted for modeling our life after that of Christ then we should be glad. That was what he was telling the disciples. That is what he is telling us. Jesus, though it was part of God’s divine plan of redemption, was put on the cross from a human perspective because he was trying to change the religious establishment. Jesus was out there in the streets making a difference. He preached against hypocrisy. He preached and preached. Jesus would not have been persecuted Himself if He had been a quiet man.

People often accuse Christianity of being a supporter of the status quo. What Jesus taught us was that we can change the world without raising our swords. We can change the world through love expressed in practical ways. Love expressed in meeting needs of others. Jesus also taught us that sometimes we have to put ourselves out there and stand for what God’s Word says. We cannot compromise ourselves so much that you can no longer tell the difference between our brand of “biblical lives” and that which is unbiblical. In today’s world, we are reviled for taking stands against anything that impedes a person’s sense of entitled free will. When we stand on God’s Word, we are considered old-fashioned and are marginalized for not being “in tune with the times.” We are to be in the world but not of it. We are to engage the culture around us in ways that we “meet them where they are at.” However, we do not compromise our biblical integrity when we do so. This path has us on the road to a day in the future that we will indeed be persecuted, censored, marginalized, imprisoned, etc. for our beliefs and our expression of them? Will there be enough evidence against you and against me as Christians for them to convict us of being Christian?

Will we have the backbone to stand up for Christ when our life is on the line, our freedom is on the line? Those are extreme examples that we may face in the days and centuries ahead. Right now, though, we are at the least ridiculed for having faith. Are you embarassed about being a Christian? Do you turn your Christian contemporary music down when others approach? Do you pray over your meals in public in a audible voice? Blessed are those who are singled out for being Christian is what Jesus is saying to us. If we are being singled out, we must be making a difference in the world. Be thankful that you are being singled out. Or would you rather shy away at the least possible amount of embarassment over your Christian faith? Let the music play loudly and boldly! Pray so other people can here you pray. That’s where it starts. In the little things. When you can be bold enough to not deny Jesus in these little things, you learn that you have the confidence to share your faith with others. You learn that you have the confidence to stand up for your faith. You learn that you have the confidence to stand up against injustice, to stand up against that which is in opposition to love, to stand up against that which is not biblical, to willingly give up your freedom or your life for biblical principles. When we grow into that kind of Christian, we will have made a difference. We will have made others notice our faith. We will be singled out. We should be joyous in that.

This gladness is not the human standard of leaping for joy because something good has happened to us, but rather the kind of joy espoused by the Apostle Paul. It was Paul who found joy in having done what his Lord compelled him to do through the actions of the Holy Spirit in his heart. If we use Jesus’ ultimate persecution as the measure of whether we are being effective in our personal ministries, then, we should count it as a compliment to the Jesus-likeness we have achieved if someone or a group or a government finds the truth that we are speaking as uncomfortable enough to try to quiet us or destroy us. May we be as effective as Paul. May we be almost Christ-like in our effectiveness. May we see our persecutions for being Christ-like as the ultimate compliment. It is then we are being noticed, being effective for Jesus. Satan wants us to blend in. He wants us to shy away from persecution. He wants us to compromise our principles to blend in. When we do that, we are ineffectual. Let’s make Satan angry. Let’s be effective. Let us bring glory to Jesus Christ through the loving ways in which we engage our culture and bring them into the fellowship. Let us bring glory to Jesus by standing for that which is right and that which is biblical. Let’s get persecuted! Let us not be silent! Let us be the ones that get Jesus noticed!


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