Monday, May 4, 2009

The Persecuted Are Blessed

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. (Matt. 5:10-12 ESV)

It doesn't seem to make sense, at least to the Western mind, that persecution is a blessing. I know for myself, until recently, I thought of persecution as a bad thing.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that persecution and martyrdom is easy or fun. It's not, just listen to the stories of persecuted believers. Having scalding hot oil splashed on your skin or being dangled upside down for hours is not anyones' idea of fun. However, it is a privilege to share in the sufferings of Christ.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. (1 Pe. 4:12-16 ESV)

We are told not to be surprised by suffering that comes upon us. Instead we are to rejoice that we share in the sufferings of Jesus. This can only come about by the enabling help of the Holy Spirit. Yielding to God in the midst of persecution brings glory to Him!

The Bible doesn't promise us the easy life as so many preachers on TV tells us. In fact, it tells us that all those who live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12). We can know that as God allows trials into our life, it's for our good (2 Cor. 4:17) and His glory.

No comments: