Blessed (Part 8)
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 5:10
In America, we basically have two types of Christians. The first type are the compromising Christians. I was here for maybe 5 to 10 years after I got saved. When I wanted to fit in with my “worldly” crowd, that is what I did. I would talk and act just like them. When I wanted to fit in with my church’s youth group, I talked and acted just like them. I never got persecuted because of righteousness because I rarely did the right thing. The second type of Christians are the ones who wholeheartedly try to follow the Lord Jesus Christ…no matter what the cost is to them. Actually following Jesus is an entirely different ballgame. The moment you go here, you will be persecuted.
Now, before I go on, you need to understand that persecution in America looks a LOT different than persecution in most other countries. In many countries your very life is at stake. It is a very real possibility that you could be murdered for your faith in Jesus. In America, you stand to lose money, friends, and position. I’m not saying these things aren’t important, they are, especially to us spoiled Americans who think that a cell phone is a necessity. I am simply saying that the consequences of following Christ are not NEARLY as severe as others might experience in their countries.
Isn’t it interesting that if you have gone through the process of changing your sinful and selfish attitude to the “be attitudes” that Jesus talks about, you will be persecuted? Why in the world would someone want to persecute someone who is “poor in spirit,” or that “hungers and thirsts for righteousness”? Why would anyone want to talk bad about someone who is “pure” and has become a “peacemaker”? I don’t know. But, I do know that ever since I have really surrendered my life to God, I have received persecution…at least in the American sense of the word. Let me explain.
As my heart began to change over the first several years of my being a Christian, I had a growing sense of the fact that I needed to stop saying I was a Christian and actually start being one. I remember one of the very first acts of righteousness that I did. I was at a bar just partying it up with my friends. I was kind of buzzed. The only thing about being buzzed for me was that I didn’t turn into wild party dude that most of my friends turned into. The more buzzed I got, the more aware I was that Jesus was going to come back on that very night and I was going to be left behind! Anyway, something happened and beer got spilled all over my lap. I immediately cursed and took the Lord’s name in vain. Instantly, I came to my senses. I had to get out of there. I know I shouldn’t admit this, but I got into my car and prayed. I told God that if He would get me home safely without getting pulled over or killing myself, that I was done with that life and I’d start really trying to live for Him. He kept His end of the deal, and so far to this day, I’ve kept mine.
That day cost me. I had several really good friends that no longer were friends. No longer did I have a core group that I hung out with. God didn’t just miraculously place new friends in my life that I could hang out with. Most weekends, I was alone. Looking back, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned how to depend on Him. I learned that I didn’t need to always have a party or an event going on in my life to make me happy. I just needed Him. Before you think that this revelation took place in a couple of weeks, you need to know that it took a few YEARS! I constantly felt ripped off by God, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, and I didn’t mind letting Him know. In the mean time, I was always looking forward to going to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night because it was my main time of social interaction. I was learning so much about the Bible and what it looks like to really follow Jesus.
Then, one Friday night I got invited to play guitar and sing at a church. Keep in mind, had I never made my little “deal” with God, I would have probably been out with my “friends” on this Friday night. I played and it was nothing particularly special. Except for the fact that a lady sent me a little card in my teacher’s mailbox at school the next week. It simply said that she enjoyed my testimony and my playing and that she’d like for me to “meet” someone. To make a ridiculously long story really short, I am married to my wife of almost 11 years because of that card that she sent.
I know that story doesn’t make you say “wow, that dude has faced some serious persecution!” I just want you to know that people, even other people who say they are Christians, will attack you and hurt you if you attempt to live right on a day by day basis. I have people rudely ask to be removed from WMD because of something I wrote. Some people feel they have to e-mail me and correct me on all kinds of different details about my writings. In fact, two years ago, I almost quit writing because of all of the attacks…mostly from other “Christians.”
I love the promise attached to this beatitude…for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. When I was studying these in depth, I couldn’t help but notice that this was the same promise attached to the first beatitude. I realize now that they are different even though the words are the same. Asking Christ into your heart (poor in spirit) simply gives you access to the things of God. You have the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible to help you go through the whole process of the other beatitudes. However, this last promise, if you can just hold on to your faith in Him and never grow tired or weary in doing what is right, if you will continue to bring light and peace to others and point others to Him, then you will receive the greatest prize of all. Every person reading this who chooses to live his or her life for Him, regardless of the cost to themselves, will live forever with Him…in the kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.