“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.”
Sadly, Christians are very often persecuted not for their Christianity, but for lack of it. Sometimes they have unpleasing personalities. They are rude, insensitive, thoughtless, or piously obnoxious.
Remember, Christ’s words must be read in their entirety. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness.” In context, this is the righteousness taught in the preceding Beatitudes.
Unfortunately, the world cannot tolerate such a life. Why?
Ultimately, the foundational reason why such a person will be persecuted is because he or she is like Christ.
Persecution has always characterized the people of God. Moses was reviled again and again. Jesus Himself was put to death by the people with whom He ministered. Stephen was stoned, and the entire course of Paul’s life was one long series of bitter and relentless persecutions.
Persecution, painful as it may be, is really a blessing in disguise.
Jesus defines how His disciples are to conduct themselves under the fire of persecution. Instead of being downcast and murmuring at the hostility, they are to be thankful for being granted the high honor. You are to look heavenward and realize that “your reward in heaven is great…”
Let us remember the words of the martyr Polycarp. When Roman authorities demand that he curse Christ or be burned at the stake, he replied, “Eighty-six years I have served Him. He has never done me wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who has saved me?” May we all have such resolution to face persecution and not relent—for the glory of God.