Jesus said many times that those who follow Him will be persecuted. "If they persecute me, they will persecute you [John 15:20-21]." But the Lord promises his disciples that their reward will be the Kingdom of Heaven!
In this beatitude Christ pronounces a blessing on those who are being persecuted. But the persecution that they are suffering is not for misdeeds or evil acts, their persecution is for doing righteousness.
No, not for any crimes they have done, and not for being unrighteous and committing the acts of those who practice evil such as murderers, thieves, and all other acts of wickedness, but on account of their righteous and Godly conversation and Godly actions which in turn brings upon them the hatred and enmity of the men of the world. For by living righteously the believers separate themselves from the world and profess themselves not to belong to the world. The Godly life of true believers places a brand upon them that distinguishes them from the rest of the world.
There is much evidence that proves that more Christians around the world have been martyred for their faith in this century alone, than in the combined previous nineteen centuries of the church's history. In many countries today it is a crime to be a Christian. If you live in the United States, you may think that the idea of persecution of Christians is not very relevant today. We are not experiencing any real persecution here in this country. But as you look around in this country, you can't help but see many great evil inroads that have been made into destroying anything having to do with Jesus Christ, the Bible, or the laws of God. The greatest assault against Christianity have been the many laws that have been passed recently, all with the idea of suppressing Christianity in all areas of society.
Persecution in the United States at this time, frequently comes verbally, via the tongue, usually in the form of cruel mockings and reproachful language, or by deeds such as confiscation of goods, banishment from a group, or even in the workplace where one may be fired, demoted, or spoken against because of one's Christian faith. In today's society to tell others that you are a born again Christian who has put his entire faith and trust in Jesus Christ, is to bring on smirks and laughs, rude and disgusting comments, and alienation and retaliation.
If you doubt this then tell a group of your friends what the Word of God says about the homosexual lifestyle, and that God says that it is horribly wrong, and then tell them what the Bible says is going to happen to those who engage in it. Or tell a few of your fellow workers what the Bible says about murdering unborn children and that God considers it nothing less than an abomination. Then observe the response from these friends and fellow workers. I think you will see most of the time the seeds of verbal persecution beginning to form.
But why is their such persecution in the world, and why is God so offensive to so many? Because the Word of God is a stumbling block to ungodly people. The unbelievers that don't know Jesus enjoy sinning, in fact they revel in it. They enjoy partaking in as many sins as possible. Sinning is what gives them pleasure. To sin is to enjoy life. The reason why ungodly men persecute Godly men, is because of the spirit that the creator has placed within each one of us. When the unbeliever sins, the Holy Spirit is convicting the spirit of that sinner and this causes the sinner to know that he is doing wrong and that his actions are against the laws of God.
Of course this is all foolishness to the non-believing unrepentant sinner, but still the unbelieving sinner feels guilty and doesn't like that feeling, so it is rather easy for him to lash out at the believers of God, blaming them for making him feel bad. That is why the things of God and the beliefs of God are constantly being ridiculed and made fun of. The unbelievers are constantly attempting to destroy anything that has to do with God in a desperate attempt to do away with the source of their feeling bad. Throughout human history blaming someone else for their troubles has always been a very easy way out for a great many groups. So the sinner is an enemy of God and he is trying to fight back against God. And since the sinner can't get at God, he does the next best thing - he goes after those that follow God. Jesus told us in John 3:20 that, "Everyone who does evil hates the light," and in John 7:7 he declared, "The world hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." This can all be summed up by another verse in the Book of John. John 15:20 "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you."
The world hates Jesus because he is light, righteousness, and truth. They hate him because he reveals the wickedness of the people of the world, and they hate him because he exposes their evil. Jesus also told his disciples that they were his servants, and he told them just as he is telling us, that if the master is hated, then the servants of the master will also be hated. It's like someone who hates someone of a different race. Usually that person will also hate all others in that entire race. Or if a man hates his neighbor, he will usually also hate the man's wife and children. In fact it is sad to say but he will many times even hate those who come and visit that neighbor.
If you are not being persecuted, you should ask, "Why?" And the answer just may be that you are not living a Godly life. It is our Godly life that causes the other person to get heated up, upset, and unhappy. The truth is, everyone who lives a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. If no one is persecuting you, it is because you are not living the Christian life and shining as lights in the world.
In Luke 6:26 Jesus said, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets." When the world applauds, appreciates, and commends you instead of persecuting you, you can pretty well figure that you are no longer a true prophet of the Lord. When the world chuckles right along with you and pats you on your back, you can pretty well deduce that you are, in fact, a false prophet who always speaks smooth things created from your own subjectivity without hearing from the Spirit of the living God. Sadly, if you have no persecution in your life then that is probably just another way of saying that you have been absorbed into the world.It is very true that persecution is the cost of being a Christian, because the believer must reckon upon hardships and troubles much more than other men. At first glance persecution looks to be a truly horrible experience. But even though persecution usually isn't pleasant, it does have a great many rewarding advantages, for when persecution comes into our lives then we must conclude the following:
That we have put our complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ. That we can truly call ourselves Christians. That we belong to the kingdom of God. That we are righteous. That we have been chosen by the Father and the Son. That ours is the kingdom of God now and in the future. That Jesus is truly our Lord and that is why we are being persecuted. That our salvation is sure and certain. That we are not false prophets. That we are not worldly for the people of the world are not persecuted. That we are in the very good company with many other saved Christians. That we can know that we are truly born again. That eternal life is ours.
posted by Peace at 5/25/2006 11:59:00 PM