Summary: Called to live a beatitude kind of life, the hard reality is anyone who lives out the first seven beatitudes is guaranteed at some point to experience the eighth.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus ends the beatitudes by saying “Blessed are those persecuted, reviled, and spoken against.” Would anyone care to get in “the blessed line?” Most of us prefer popularity, praise, and prosperity over persecution. Certainly applause is more appealing than abuse, and we’d much rather have one’s support than be slandered.
From a Christian perspective, persecu¬tion isn’t that hard to evade. One needs only to live as the world lives and by default approve of its stand¬ards or lack thereof. Simply engage with the world by using its language, adopting its prac¬tices, and enjoying its entertainment. Furthermore, never confront any sin or engage a sinner in a discussion of their eternal destiny. And never, ever suggest that Christ is the only way and any other religious system is a lie. If questioned, lie about your convictions (which you don’t have) and never publicly take a stand for God or biblical truths.
Could it be that we suffer so little per¬secution because we have done just that? Truth be told, our lives are just not that different from the world. Sur¬veys repeatedly reveal that professing Chris¬tians do not live that differently from the world in that their stated faith has had little impact on how they live their daily lives. While they pro¬fess faith and attend religious services, most tend to watch the same movies and television pro¬grams, listen to the same music, dress and talk the same, and pursue the same goals. The divorce rate among Christians is almost as high as that of the world, as are the rates of school cheating, teens lying to parents, alcohol use, and pre¬marital sex. We want to point to the world and blame it for the change in our own behavior. In our hearts we know that isn’t the problem. The fact is we have lowered our personal standards for righteous living. While our standards have changed, God’s standards for right¬eous living have not. Personal holi¬ness is still part of the required curricu¬lum for following Christ.
Followers of Christ have been called to live righteous lives. In the context of this study, we have been called to live a beat¬itude kind of life. Here is the hard reality of such a life: anyone who lives out the first seven beatitudes is guaranteed at some point to experi¬ence the eighth. The word “persecuted” (dioko) means to har¬ass or to treat in an evil way. The word “revile” (oneidizo) means to abuse with vile, vicious, mocking words. It is the word used by the thieves in Matthew 27:44 who “heaped insults” on Jesus. The phrase “falsely say all kinds of evil against you” means to slander by stat¬ing things that are not true.
Jesus was clear in that one who chose to follow Him and live by His standards would encounter opposition and perse¬cution. He spoke of carrying a cross and counting the cost (Luke 14:27-28). He made it clear to His disciples that just as He had been persecuted, they would experience a similar fate (John 15:20). Paul echoed that same truth often with such words as, “All who live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).