Summary: Part 8 of 8 on the Beattitudes.
The Perfect Standard For Life
Expect To Be Persecuted For Your Faith In Christ - Part 8 of 8
Reading: Matthew 5v10-12
As we look at this final Beatitude, we come to a very strange contradiction, because it talks about the relationship between persecution and joy.
It’s like saying, “Happy are those who get punched in the nose”.
Yet Jesus said, “Sooner or later you’re going to take a punch in the nose because of Me”.
…and even more than that, it is the only Beatitude where Jesus gives us a further commentary on what He had just said, and that should tell us that these words are of extreme importance to us as a church.
In other words, Jesus is saying here that we as the church of believers must have supernatural joy when we’re persecuted.
It’s a theme that runs right through the New Testament.
…and so Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”.
Now, if you think about it, that would not make a very good advertisement on TV for Christianity, would it?
Most advertisements don’t play up the fine print, do they?
The community service organisation does not say, “Join us and stand on a street corner in sub-zero temperatures with a plastic bucket in your hand”.
No - they don’t say it, but anyone who joins their service expects it, am I right?
Why?, because they’ve seen others standing on the street corners in sub-zero temperatures with plastic buckets in their hands.
They understand that a few inconveniencies go with the incentives for doing good.
Let me say this, it’s no different in the Kingdom of God!
Persecution wasn’t a last minute add-on by God.
It’s been there all this time by design.
So if you sign-up to the Gospel of Christ, you will experience some spiritual sub-zero days, but along with those inconveniencies you will have rich rewards.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.
When Peter and the other Apostles were beaten before the Sanhedrin soon after the Holy Spirit was poured out on them, it says of them in Acts 5v41, “They left the Council chamber rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor for his name.” (LB).
Its like this Scottish pastor by the name of Samuel Rutherford who was put into prison, yet wrote these words while in prison, “I never knew by my nine years of preaching so much of Christ’s love, as He taught me in Aberdeen, by six months imprisonment”.
Not so long ago now a Romanian pastor described how he was imprisoned and tortured, and yet experienced joy.
Locked in solitary confinement, his captors cut pieces of flesh from his body and then put him back into prison again where he was starved.
Yet in the middle of all of that, there were times when the joy of Christ so overcame him, that he would pull himself up and shuffle about the cell and dance for joy before the Lord.
He felt such a closeness to God during that time, that on his release from prison and his return to his home, he chose to fast the first day in memory to the joy he had known in prison.
When I stayed in Latvia and visited countries like the Ukraine, I also heard of some of these amazing stories.
…and when you hear them at first, you think, “How is it possible to be so full of joy when your body goes through so much pain and suffering?”
But if we want to fully understand what Christ is saying here, there is two things we must keep in mind.
a. When you hear these stories, you have to know that these people never enjoyed the persecution.
To suggest that you should enjoy persecution is to get the wrong idea.
b. Another thing we must keep in mind, is that persecution of itself is neither blessed not joyous.
However, there is a certain kind persecution that has God’s blessing on it.
…and that kind of bring us to the question,…
What Kind Of Persecution Brings Joy?
First we have to understand that this Beatitude does not say, “Blessed are the persecuted, period?”
Unfortunately this is how many Christians have interpreted this verse.
People who think like this actually believe, that anytime they experience conflict, they are bearing the burden of Christ, therefore some people wrongly seek out persecution for the wrong reasons so that they can say,
“I’m being persecuted”.
In other words, they deliberately get themselves into trouble in order to claim that they have been persecuted for Jesus.
But look what God has to say about that in 1 Peter 4v14-16, “Be happy if you are cursed and insulted for being a Christian, for when that happens the Spirit of God will come upon you with great glory. Don’t let me hear of your suffering for murdering or stealing or making trouble or being a busybody and prying into other people’s affairs. But it is no shame to