Summary: Take a stand for Christ. It is a challenge because the world is flowing in the opposite direction. But each time we make a stand, we are bearing testimony that our faith is real.
God wants peacemakers in His church. God wants to peacemakers in the workplace. God wants peacemakers in this world.
• If you are a child of God, you are a peacemaker.
We are not called to be peacekeepers but peacemakers.
• All of us must seek to make peace, to help others make peace, and help others make peace with God. God is pleading with them through us today.
• Learn from Abraham: Have a desire to end the conflict. Treasure the relationship. Be generous in heart and not take yourself too seriously.
• The Lord will bless you, the way He blessed Abraham with a more.
We now come to the last of the beatitudes, and most difficult one.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
This must be difficult for His followers to swallow.
Jesus has to repeat it for emphasis. He said it twice, and even adds, ‘rejoice and be glad’.
Blessed are those who are persecuted BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS – in order words, for their faith.
• Obviously not referring to the pain you suffered because of a crime or wrongdoing.
• When we stand by our Christian values and our belief in Christ, and suffer as a result of it, the Lord says you are blessed.
• The very act is a testimony of your faith in God and your determination to stay ‘righteous’.
Adam is a young Christian in India. In his Hindu village, people were opposed to the gospel. One day Adam’s brother and wife became the first believers in the village.
Although Adam wasn’t willing to follow, he observed their changed lives. They began to share the gospel with other villagers, but no one would listen. Then the beatings began. Every time the Hindus beat Adam’s brother, someone in the crowd believed in Christ.
Eventually, Adam believed in Christ too, and began to suffer the same persecution as his brother.
One day the villagers surrounded Adam, his brother, and the small group of new Christians. In rage they had prepared a huge pot of boiling water and were preparing to cook the Christians alive.
Then one of the Hindus calmed the mob and said, "If we do this even more will become Christians," so they agreed to just beat the believers.
As a result, others came to Christ and now theirs is a church of more than 35 families in the village.
Each time you take a stand, you are testifying for Christ.
Each time you compromise, you weaken that witness of the Gospel.
(1) Make a Stand for Christ
Why is this so needed? Why making a stand for Christ requires an EFFORT.
• We need to make an effort to take a stand because this world is not moving in the same direction.
• If everyone is moving in the same direction, we do not need to make a stand. We just flow with it.
• But the world is not going to move in same direction; we are going against the current. Therefore we need to be prepared in our heart to stay faithful to Christ.
• We are determined to move in God’s direction - the opposite direction.
The Lord says in John 15:18-20
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: `No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”
In order words, we must be (2) Prepared for a Challenge
Where does the challenge come from? From the world, the Lord says.
• Which is ultimately from the devil himself, since the world is under his influence.
• We are moving against the wind, flowing against the current.
Paul wrote to Timothy, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim 3:12)
• He spoke from experience. He had to run for his life, been stoned, beaten and whipped for his faith in Christ.
• His challenges were more physical.
• Church history tells us that the disciples were all persecuted, just as Jesus said.
Fox’s Book of Martyrs:
James was beheaded. It is said that on his way to be martyred, his accuser was so impressed by his courage and conviction that he repented of his sin, committed himself to Christ, and was then beheaded along with James