Summary: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
The Beauty of Risk
Two prevailing paradoxes emerge from this last beatitude:
1. Peace-making sometimes ends in conflict
The conflict that ends in supreme happiness is a conflict based on the Christ-follower’s passionate pursuit of righteousness.
Righteousness: making things right.
“Persecution is simply the clash between two irreconcilable value systems.”
John R.W. Stott
Secret #8: Godly living is dangerous.
What secret keeps us from living dangerously? Our fear of rejection
2. Persecution can end in joy
a. Our follow-ship is confirmed by it v.12
b. Our reward is great because of it v.12
c. Our love for Him demands it v.11
Opening testimony video (no sermon bumper)
And so now we come to the end of the Beatitudes. Turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 5:10-12. Read these last 3 verses with me out loud, will you?
10 THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS ARE BLESSED, FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS THEIRS.
11 “YOU ARE BLESSED WHEN THEY INSULT AND PERSECUTE YOU AND FALSELY SAY EVERY KIND OF EVIL AGAINST YOU BECAUSE OF ME.
12 BE GLAD AND REJOICE, BECAUSE YOUR REWARD IS GREAT IN HEAVEN. FOR THAT IS HOW THEY PERSECUTED THE PROPHETS WHO WERE BEFORE YOU.
MATTHEW 5:10-12 HCSB
There are at least two paradoxes evident in this final beatitude:
1. PEACE-MAKING SOMETIMES ENDS IN CONFLICT
We’ve been saying in this study that each of these secrets that Jesus reveals about a blessed life, a life of supreme happiness, builds on the previous one. Last week we said that those who make peace are supremely happy. There is a sweet reasonableness about the true Christ-follower. We are never more like God than when we are making peace. And yet, hard as we try to make peace with some people, they refuse to live in peace with us.
Now let me hasten to say that this irreconcilability should not be because we are prideful, or selfish, or even imperfect. The conflict that comes about because we can’t be patient or be loving or generous does not end in supreme happiness.
I’ve got a dear friend who was a pastor but is not any more. I love this guy, but his temper and impatience were notorious. He got fired from nearly every church he served. In his mind it was because he would take a righteous stand about something but it really was that he would get angry and impatient when people wouldn’t do what he wanted them to do. His own character flaws were the source of his conflict.
That’s not what Jesus was talking about here. THE CONFLICT THAT ENDS IN SUPREME HAPPINESS IS A CONFLICT BASED ON THE CHRIST-FOLLOWER’S PASSIONATE PURSUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Remember what we said righteousness is? It’s NOT the faithful pursuit of a set of moral standards. RIGHTEOUSNESS: MAKING THINGS RIGHT. It’s God entering into the brokenness of our lives and making us right; it’s us entering into the brokenness of this world and partnering with God to make things right. This is what Jesus said that we are to hunger and thirst for. This is what we are to long for. Being right with God, maintaining that rightness, and entering into the wrongness of the world to make things right. When we crave righteousness, we should expect conflict and persecution. “PERSECUTION IS SIMPLY THE CLASH BETWEEN TWO IRRECONCILABLE VALUE SYSTEMS.” JOHN R.W. STOTT
The clash between two irreconcilable value systems. That’s why Dietrich Bonhoffer, a Lutheren pastor in Nazi Germany was jailed and eventually martyred—his value system prompted him to oppose white supremacy Arian movement of Hitler. That’s why Fred Shuttlesworth, an African American pastor in Birmingham Alabama was beaten with bicycle chains and baseball bats when he tried to enroll his 2 girls in an all-white school. That’s why many white pastors in the south were hounded, ostracized, fired, and in some cases even beaten. Christ-followers live in the dangerous zone where values clash.
In this beatitude, Jesus reveals a secret about kingdom living. And here it is: SECRET #8: GODLY LIVING IS DANGEROUS.
I went on 3-4 websites this week dedicated to the persecuted church.
www.persecution.com (put these on a slide and in wf)
(Make this one slide)
SINCE THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST 2000 YEARS AGO,
43,000,000 CHRISTIANS HAVE BECOME MARTYRS.
OVER 50% OF THESE WERE IN THE LAST CENTURY ALONE.
MORE THAN 200 MILLION CHRISTIANS FACE PERSECUTION EACH DAY
60% ARE CHILDREN.
EVERY DAY OVER 300 ARE KILLED
FOR THEIR FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST.
But here in America, we don’t really see that level of persecution, do we? And why not? One reason is that we still enjoy a level of religious freedom. But could it be that we no longer have much of a lifestyle that distinguishes us? When is the last time someone belittled you because you bowed your head to pray over a meal in public? When is the last time someone made fun of you for not participating in something dishonest? Or the last time you were ostracized for being a passionate Christ-follower? LIVING RIGHTLY INVITES PERSECUTION BECAUSE IT INDICTS THOSE WHO DON’T.