Summary: Jesus talked of being persecuted for "righteousness sake." If that be the case, am I living righteous enough to qualify?
*Thanks to every pastor and source which helped in making this sermon come together.
(Matthew 5:10-12) “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
With everything going on in the middle east, we are being introduced to modern-day examples of “Christians and persecution.”
Be aware that persecution of Christians is nothing new
It has never stopped, it’s just that we haven’t heard all that much about it like we do in the news today.
And I thank God that the news media is shining a light on the realities of the persecution of Christians.
I find it difficult to watch the news reports of children being cut in half and whole families being buried alive …
It’s easy to turn our heads, shut off the television and stick our heads in the sand, pretending as if such things really aren’t happening.
It’s like death … often times when someone we grew up with or someone who is close to our age dies, it causes us to face our own mortality.
So it is with this type of persecution.
With all that’s happening in the world, and even in our own country, to watch the reports of Christians being persecuted brings the whole thing too close for comfort.
What are we supposed to do if it ever comes to our neck of the woods?
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus discusses the idea of the persecution of Christians.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.”
1. We would rather Jesus not deal with this topic at all – as if it weren’t a reality.
i. As if it isn’t something that was actually going to be for us to worry about.
But there it is – He put it out there, so it is a possibility.
Although this beatitude seems to be a little out there, compared to the others that Jesus spoke of, it does fit very well into His thought on the life of a Christian.
a. It’s as much a part of a Christian’s life as is the part of a Christian being “Pure in heart.”
b. It’s as much a characteristic of a Christian as being a peacemaker, or being merciful.
But there is something here that stands out about the idea of being persecuted.
1. He doesn’t say “Blessed are those who are persecuted.”
2. Instead He gives a reason for the persecution:
i. Blessed are those who are persecuted for “righteousness sake.”
A lot of Christians today in our nation as well as in our churches have a complete misunderstanding of this type of persecution.
Note: There have been those who claimed to be persecuted because they were a conscientious objector, i.e., they refused to go to military service because the Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill.”
Yet, they have a gun in every room of their house and would willingly shoot the first intruder who came in and threatened his or her family.
• Others have claimed to have been persecuted for their stand, claiming that they were fired because they refused to work on Sunday when the Bible says to “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.”
o Yet, even after they didn’t have a job they stayed home from church on Sunday to fix the roof on their house or to do the yard work.
Be aware that God is a discerner of the heart and He isn’t fooled by such behavior.
Some face persecution simply because they are difficult people.
In other words, their way is the only right way and if people don’t agree with them, they consider themselves to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
• Others face persecution because they take a stand for a political cause …
o It doesn’t even have to be a noble cause, such as prayer in schools or the killing of innocent children.
o In their case, maybe they didn’t want a bridge built in a certain place or didn’t want a traffic light put up in some location.
o Maybe they didn’t want a house torn down in order to build a mall, or a certain tree cut down to build a playground, or whatever and they consider their stand to be one of suffering religious persecution.
Some Christians are anxious to take on the cloak of the “martyr” when it comes to suffering.
Many are willing to take on a cause, therefore they consider themselves to be martyrs simply because someone is disagreeing with them or fighting against their cause.