Persecution seems like such a heavy word. If we are students of history, it conjures up images of Christians fed to the lions in the Roman arena. Or of Christians hung on poles and lit on fire by a crazed emperor to light his garden. If we are paying attention to the news today, the word might make us think of beatings and imprisonment in certain countries. Or, we might think of governmental agencies and some interest groups in the United States suing Christians who refuse to violate their beliefs.
But we should expand our understanding. The Beatitude in Matthew 5:10 says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(NIV) But the following verse expands it to say, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”(NIV) So, what is the insult he referred to?
George Bernard Shaw once insulted Winston Churchill by sending this message: “I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend… if you have one.” Churchill replied, “Cannot possibly attend first night; will attend second, if there is one.”* Is this the type of insult Jesus was speaking about? No. The key is the words “because of me.” The insult, persecution or false accusation was all because of Jesus. If we are insulted or falsely accused because we follow Jesus, great is our reward in heaven!
*Funny Insults, https://funny-insults.com/famous-insults/
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.