Summary: The Bible promises that everyone who follows Jesus will face persecution. If we aren’t facing any opposition for our faith, maybe we should ask ourselves why.
Small Group Discussion Questions
When you hear the word "persecution," what do you think of? What images come to mind?
What are some ways Christians are persecuted today?
Do you think persecution is worse for Christians in other countries than in the United States? Why or why not?
Can you think of a time where you have personally faced persecution because of your faith in Jesus Christ? Discuss.
Blessed are the Persecuted
This morning we’re finishing up a series on the beatitudes.
The beatitudes are qualities or characteristics that should be more and more evident in our lives as we continue to follow Jesus and grow closer to Him.
We said that the beatitudes should be an attitude of people who follow Jesus.
And over the last few weeks, we’ve seen that Jesus likes to make us look at things in new and different ways, and see things in a different light.
The beatitudes are all about seeing things from God’s point of view instead of seeing things from the world’s perspective.
A lot of these things totally go against our way of thinking and the last beatitude that we’re looking at today is no different.
Let’s look at it together. It’s in Matthew 5:10-12, NLT.
"God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way."
This definitely flies in the face of how we think.
So to help us really get what Jesus is talking about here, we’re going to look at three different questions and then I want to point out some things for us to remember.
The three questions are what, who and why.
What is Jesus talking about? He’s talking about persecution.
Persecution = being harassed, mistreated or abused
That’s the what, let’s talk about the who.
The people that Jesus is talking about here are Christians.
Jesus said that God blesses people who are persecuted or mistreated for doing right, people who are harassed, mistreated or abused simply because they follow Jesus – because of their faith in God.
And that’s an important part of what Jesus is saying here.
Because people can be mistreated for a lot of different reasons – maybe because they are mean to other people, maybe because of who they hang out with, maybe because they’re just different.
But that’s not what Jesus is talking about here. Now don’t get me wrong. I believe that God is close to the broken-hearted. I believe that He hears the prayers of people who are being hurt and mistreated.
But in this passage, Jesus says that God blesses people who are mistreated or harassed because of their faith – because of their belief in God, because they’re not afraid or ashamed to stand up and say I AM A CHRISTIAN!
And here’s the thing. You know we’ve talked a lot about this idea of imitating Jesus, of living like Jesus lived.
Here’s what the Bible says.
2 Timothy 3:12, NLT
"Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
You could also say that anyone who imitates Jesus, who lives as Jesus lived, will be harassed, mistreated, insulted or abused.
Let’s talk about why.
Jesus made it pretty clear in John 15:18-19 (The Message).
"If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you."
Why will you face persecution if you follow Jesus? It’s because you live in a world that doesn’t follow Jesus.
That’s why it says, “If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as its own…but since you live on God’s terms and no longer on the worlds terms, the world is going to hate you.”
As a person who follows God in an ungodly world, you’re going to stick out. You aren’t going to look like everyone else. You’re going to be different. You aren’t going to be accepted.
For that reason alone, people will insult you, make fun of you, harass you, and mistreat you if you are living as a follower of Jesus Christ.
On New Year’s Eve, Chel and I went to see the now Super Bowl Champions Indianapolis Colts play the Miami Dolphins.
We parked a little ways away from the RCA Dome and as we were walking to the stadium, we passed all kinds of people who were tailgating before the game. They had their Colts tents up, and Colts flags, and everyone was decked out in their Colts apparel. They were drinking from Colts cups and they had Colts table cloths. It was like a sea of blue and white.