The new you… willingly, and joyfully mistreated
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)
As I read Scripture, I am often amazed at the responses of those Christians who were subjugated to the full brunt of persecution.
In Acts 5:40-41, the apostles were reprimanded and beaten (actually scourged – whipped with leather cords on bare skin) by the Jewish ruling council. Their crimes? Healing the sick and performing “signs and wonders” in Jesus’ Name.
And their response to their brutal treatment? “They left… rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for The Name.”
In Hebrews 10:32-35, the new Jewish Christians faced all manners of persecution. They endured “sufferings,” “reproach,” “affliction,” and imprisonment – just for taking a stand to believe in Jesus. Ultimately, they “joyfully accepted the confiscation of (their) property” – their most valued possessions – all because they chose to possess Jesus!
But persecution for being the people of God is nothing new. It has gone on for centuries. Hebrews 11 (the faith chapter!) closes with a stark reminder of the brutal treatment of the faithful… “They were stoned, sawed in two,.. killed with the sword, went about in (animal) skins; destitute, afflicted, mistreated…” All because they chose to align themselves with the God of Heaven – and take a stand, by believing in Him.
The point of all this is to emphasize one essential thing. True faith in God puts us all in a position of opposition to the world and its’ ways. To take a stand for God, puts us in a place of contempt with those who do not know Him. This is what Jesus was trying to tell us. But He does not look at this as a “bad” thing. He calls it a position of being “blessed.”
If the objective of our lives is to find the most comfortable life possible, we will never know the fullness of God’s love (and purpose) for our lives. It is simple: we will always be seeking for what is best for US. And what we consider best for us, seldom involves hardship, suffering, mistreatment, or… persecution.
If we are always in it for us, we will never be fully in it for God.
And that is the issue that needs to be settled. It all goes back to a disciple’s mindset – or the mindset of the crowd (as we talked about a few weeks ago). A disciple leaves every concern behind to embrace Jesus. The crowd just wants to have Jesus near, when we need Him.
Jesus tells us the blessed life is a life of possessing only the King and His Kingdom. And the King will only place the fullness of His Kingdom into empty hands.
No amount of mistreatment or persecution can take away what the King has given!
Prayer focus: God, help me to settle the issue of my full surrender to knowing You and possessing You alone!