“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Those who belong to Christ will be persecuted. If the Master himself was persecuted, his disciples will be persecuted too.
1. PERSECUTION IS INEVITABLE (John 15:18-20).
(a) Persecution in the workplace.
Such was the experience of a committed Christian who tried to set things right in the corrupt government agency she worked in. She was ostracized and given a desk in a corner of the workplace where in virtual isolation she practically had no choice but to be left alone and to leave others alone.
(b) Persecution in the family (Matthew 10:34-36)
Such was the experience of one who converted to Christianity from another religion. Her family no longer wanted to have anything to do with her.
(c) Political persecution (Luke 21:12-13)
As of this writing, a famous pastor has decided to go on holding indoor worship services in spite of the local government’s directives not to do so. He points out that Christians are commanded not to forsake the assembling of themselves together (Hebrews 10:24), that the pandemic is not serious enough to warrant the closure of the churches, that they have a constitutional right to freely worship and that therefore the government has no right to prevent them from meeting. There’s a debate going on right now as to whether he’s right or wrong in his stand. But the point is: His standing up for his convictions has resulted in government exerting considerable pressure to get him to back down.
2. PERSECUTION MUST BE FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ SAKE (1 Peter 2:19-21).
If we suffer for doing wrong there is nothing praiseworthy about that. If we must suffer persecution, it must be because we live righteous lives and stand up for what is right for Christ’s sake, even if our stand is not popular and, in fact, even provokes the anger of those who cannot stand our stand.
3. PERSECUTION IS A CAUSE FOR REJOICING –
(a) Because of the great honor involved in joining the ranks of Christ’s faithful servants who suffered for their faith ( Acts 5:41; Hebrews 11:36-38; 12:1).
(b) Because of the great reward involved –
– in terms of the crown of life given to those who remain steadfast under trial (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10);
– in terms of the crown of souls won or Christ (Act 16:25-34; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).
There are those whose lives will be changed by our courage and conviction. Our sacrifice and suffering will not be in vain. They, standing with us in the presence of Christ, will be our reward.
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” The persecution most of us will face probably won’t be to the extent of shedding our blood. But surely there’s going to be pain and suffering involved to a lesser or greater degree. Are we ready to suffer for Christ?