The final Beatitude is frankly one that we don’t like to think about. It has to do with being persecuted for our faith. It is happening in a lot of places in the world and it is coming to the U.S. I have no doubt of this.
Persecution comes in all shapes and sizes. I believe we will face more and more actual persecution as the days go forward. I’m not being a pessimist; just acknowledging that what Jesus said to His followers in the first century will also be true in the twenty-first. Persecution can be something as simple as abusive speech and as traumatic as physical punishment or torture.
A few things we need to remember when persecution comes:
- It is not to be unexpected. In fact, Paul told Timothy (2 Timothy 3:12) that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” I won’t take time to quote Jesus at length, but you can read His words expecting persecution here. If the world persecuted Jesus; it will persecute His followers.
- Real persecution is related to your faith, not just you being a jerk. Jesus was pursued because of His claim to be God the Son. His disciples faced prison and abuse because they affirmed that Jesus rose from the dead and challenged people to turn from their sin to follow Jesus. If we do those things (which we are commanded to do) we will face similar things. We may be chased out of social situations…out of jobs…away from any sense of popularity in our culture. I hope the “accusation” about Daniel would be made about me: “we won’t find anything against him unless it is about his God.”
- We can respond positively to this reality. Jesus said they should rejoice…leap for joy. They have a reward coming that will far outweigh anything negative that they could face right now. In addition to that; they were in good company. “so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
What is all of this going to look like in North America? I don’t know. I do know that our culture is increasingly turning its back on the things of God. Righteousness is viewed with disdain more and more. Holiness is mocked and even people who call themselves Christians are redefining terms so that they can continue in their sin rather turn from it and be seen as “prudish.”
This is no time for despair but a time to lean into our relationship with Christ and to rejoice in the opportunity to shine as lights in the world that God has put us in so that His glory can be seen more brightly. “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father that is in Heaven.”