In Matthew 5:11-12, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
How is that? Blessed is often translated “happy”. How can you be happy when people are reviling (insulting) you and persecuting you, and saying all kinds of lies about you because you trust in Jesus? Rejoice! Whoop It Up! Because it is sooo neat that you love God and God loves you; and it really doesn’t matter what those other people think; certainly not when you compare it to what God thinks, and how great it is to have a close personal relationship with the One True God! Hallelu-Jah!
As for the last part of this verse, that “your reward is great in heaven”; I like that. But I keep wondering how it could be any better than this; knowing that it’s heaven to have the Spirit of the Living God right here in our own hearts, right now. I’m rejoicing because I have a close, personal relationship with God, just like the prophets. It’s a sign of God’s loving care and your trust in Him when you can rejoice even when you’re being persecuted.
1 Thessalonians 2:14 says, “14 You too brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches in Judea, because you suffered the same things from your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed our Lord Jesus and the prophets, and have driven us out. . . . 1 Thess 3:2, “We sent Timothy to encourage you in these afflictions; . . . 4 in fact we told you in advance that you (we) would suffer persecution.”
We haven’t had much persecution against Christians here in the good ole U.S.A. in the past 250 years; but in the last few decades, there has been a steady stream of attack from some adherents of other religions. Sometimes they claim responsibility, other times the circumstances speak for themselves. In a few instances in recent years, people, right here in America have been required to recant their Christian beliefs at the point of a gun or be killed. Some have stayed the course, stood fast for Jesus, and gone on to glory.
In all my nearly 70 years, I have never been required to make such a decision. The worst I’ve had is for someone to tell me that I was stupid to believe in Jesus. But I expect that if we’re real Christians we American Christians will “suffer real affliction for Jesus” in the coming days, as Christians the world over are already suffering. Continue reading