Summary: Eight of the Eight Milestones on the Journey of the Fruitful Followers.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Unlike the other beatitudes, which has only one verse for each of them, the final beatitude has 3 verses because it is so important.
Living in a healthy relationship with God and others is Jesus’ definition of righteousness. In the previous stages we have strived to do so, and we also have begun bearing fruits as peacemakers to help people make peace with God and one another. We are now at the center of God’s will. People often say that the safest place is being at the center of God’s will, yet in fact it could be the most dangerous place depending on how we perceive it.
We usually say “what goes around comes around.” So when we strive for righteousness and do the good deeds as peacemakers, we expect good rewards from the world. However, more often than not, the peacemakers get persecuted because there are many people in the world that don’t want to have peace, or embrace the light—Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) They would find all ways to put off the light so that they can continue living in the darkness.
After retiring from his business, my father started a drug rehabilitation ministry called the Operation Dawn Myanmar. A large number of young people in the Northern Burma were in drugs, and still are. The totalitarian nation does not give the young people a good future to hope for. Therefore, many of them submerge themselves in drugs to ease the pain of meaninglessness. Most of the existing rehabilitation centers have not been effective; within six months after they leaver the rehabs, most of their clients went back on drugs.
The Operation Dawn ministry was different, it does not use any medication, but pure spirituality, combining prayer, scripture, and peer support. However, no one was required to be converted to Christianity in order to participate. The success rate was overwhelming. Filled with meaning, hope, and the Spirit, the young people never again have the desire to escape back into drugs. Witnessing the miracle of transformation, the parents claimed, “Jesus changes lives! Jesus changed my son’s live!” Many families ended up becoming followers of Jesus Christ.
The Operation Dawn Myanmar soon accumulated a two-year waiting list. My father opened another one farther north, but soon it drew another two-year waiting list. As my father planned for another expansion in 1999, the military regime raided the rehab center and arrested him as a political prisoner. They then destroyed both rehab centers. In a country where prisoners are treated like animals, my father found it hard initially to believe that he deserved such treatments for doing good deeds, but later he experienced God’s blessing during the persecution, the story of which will be for the next meditation.
When you strive for God’s righteousness, you are rescuing souls from the devil’s hands and he doesn’t like it, so he will persecute you for doing peacemaker. Congratulations! You have made the homerun; the kingdom of heaven is promised for you when you started out as an awakened person with poverty in spirit, and now it is for you because you have manifested the future kingdom of God in the present. You have made the “righteousness at home.” (2 Peter 3:13)
There are many saints in the history that has gone through this path. Learning from them, we have at least three important reminders that we need to remember when you go through a tough time.
1. Remember God will Protect You
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2