This beatitude speaks of a blessing no one wants. This blessing comes to those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. “ Blessed are the persecuted “. There are six facts about this beatitude, these facts make it impossible for us to ignore it. It is the last beatitude. It is the longest beatitude, it is the only beatitude with a command- “REJOICE”. It is the only beatitude with an explanation. It is the only beatitude repeated by Christ. It is the only beatitude directed to the reader- “You”.
Let us learn :-
I. FIRST, THE PERSECUTION WE WILL ENDURE.
- The certainty of persecution: it will happen.
– Persecution is a reality—Almost all disciples of Jesus suffered extreme persecution– Martyrdom for His sake.
– Thousands lost their lives in the first 300 years of Christianity.
– Persecution is still a present reality today. (Persecutionwatch.org)
– Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world and Christians are still put to death for their faith.
– In Pakistan, Sudan, Indonesia, Churches are still being burned and Christians murdered.
– According to “Open doors organization”, 100 million Christians around the globe are currently facing persecution.
– Persecution takes the form of imprisonment, abuse, hostilities. (see, www.opendoorsus.org)
- But even in Kenya, you may experience verbal persecution of your faith.
- Jesus Christ warned us of persecution (John 15:18-20)
- Paul warned Timothy that persecution will come. (2 Tim.3:12)
- Peter warned us not to be shocked (I Peter 4:12)
- The meaning of Persecution.
- a)What Persecution is not.
- There is no promise of happiness for those who are persecuted for being a nuisance, offensive, difficult and insulting to their neighbors.
- There are those who are persecuted for “wrong doing”.
- You cannot claim God’s promise when you are wrong for shooting an abortionist or for foolishness.
- b)What persecution is.
- “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake .”
- “Persecute” (dediomenoi) means “ To pursue, to drive or chase away”
- Verbal insults = “Revile”= Criticizing, false accusations and discrediting.
- If I am abusive, arrogant and mannerless and people accuse me, that is not persecution.
II. SECOND, THE PROMISE WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN.
- “For theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”
- Theirs is the kingdom of God now and forever (I Peter 4:14).
III. THIRD, THE POSITION WE SHOULD TAKE- “An attitude of Joy” (v.22)
- Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven.
- Jesus Christ promises that the reward for faithfulness is “great “ (Polos)= “Immeasurably great”
- In the position of persecution– we are not to retaliate like unbelievers, we are not to cry like a baby, not to lick our wounds in self-pity, not to bear it like a stoic or pretend to enjoy like masochist– we are called to rejoice exceedingly and be glad, skip and hop with joy.
IV. FOURTH, HOW DO WE REJOICE IN PERSECUTION ?
- Rejoice because you know that it is a demonstration of your identity with Christ. Persecution identifies you as of Christ. (Acts 5:41)
- Rejoice in persecution because, we know that God uses persecution to refine us. (1 peter 1:6-8)
- Rejoice in persecution because we know that it gives us the opportunity to show the difference that Christ makes in a person’s life.
- Rejoice in persecution because of the promise of rewards. (Heb.11:26, 2Cor.4:16-18)
- Rejoice in persecution because you know that Jesus is near when we are suffering. (Ex.2:33-25, Judy 10:16, Daniel 2:24-25, Matt.28:20)
The Blessing No one Wants: “Blessed are the persecuted”