Summary: Persecution against the children of God is meant to accomplish two things... shut them up and shut them down.
Matthew 5: 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Today I want to speak on something that has been going on since the birth of Cain and Able… the persecution of the children of God. It is no coincidence the last Beatitude that Jesus gives us in Matthew 5 is on persecution. The prior seven Beatitudes teach us how to live godly lives by being repentant, obedient, humble, merciful, hungry for God, and peacemakers in this world. The lifestyle that Jesus is teaching us, is foreign and uncomfortable to this world. It’s uncomfortable because it challenges the way we think about ourselves and the way we react to the world around us.
In John chapter 3 Jesus compares the child of God’s lifestyle and the children of this world’s lifestyle with light and darkness. And He says those who live in darkness will not come to the light because the light reproves them of their sins. In other words, if you are a child of God, someone who calls themselves a Christian, your lifestyle, at certain times, is going to make someone who is not a Christian very uncomfortable because it’s going to convict them. It may be when you pass on the glass of wine at a social event. It may be when you suggest forgiveness to someone who’s been wronged. It may be when you bow your head and pray over your biscuit and gravy at the local Hardees. It may be when you say no to a girl’s night out down at the local nightclub. It may be when you express your belief about a certain cultural hot-topic in the break room at work.
You don’t have to force someone to come to church so they will experience conviction; the way you live your life should cause them to experience conviction. Conviction takes place when the light of Jesus shines from your actions and words and the Spirit exposes darkness in the lives of unbelievers. And people don’t like to feel convicted.
The world will always say, Away with such fellows from the earth. They are made to reprove our thoughts. They are grievous to us even to behold. Their lives are not like other men's; their ways are of another fashion. —Wesley's Commentary
John 15:19-21 (GW) Jesus addresses this…
19 “If you had anything in common with the world, the world would love you as one of its own. But you don't have anything in common with the world. I chose you from the world, and that's why the world hates you.
20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant isn't greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you… 21 Indeed, they will do all this to you because you are committed to me...”
The Apostle Paul addresses young Timothy on this matter in 2 Timothy 3:12-15
12 “… all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”