Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Persecuted for Doing Right

A Look At Prophecy In The Gospel of Matthew


Matthew 5:10 NLT
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God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

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Near the Beginning


God introduced the concept of doing right early in the scripture. Certainly it is present in the instructions given to Adam and Eve in the Garden then their not doing right.

In Genesis 4:7, God speaks the principle clearly, "You will be accepted if you do what is right."

Don't forget! Cain thought he was doing something holy, apparently something he felt was right.

When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord.  Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.

In the aftermath of that anger and dejection, God approached Cain. First, he asked why Cain was angry. An excellent question for us to pursue when we are ill-treated for doing what is right. Then God asked why he looked so dejected. These were not the questions of a God looking to punish or further chastise a friend, but the questions of compassion seeking to help Cain understand the root causes of his anger and dejection.

When we fail to do right, even when we come to God in repentance, which Cain apparently did not do, be prepared for him to ask you the same questions.To truly repent of something when you do not really know its root cause is like cutting the visible top off a weed that will soon grow back. 

Cain's weed grew back and produced anger's flip side. Murder. Jesus in another teaching says that to hate your brother is to have murdered him already in your heart. Believer beware.

Cain rejected God's word and we find the first example of persecution in the Bible. An extreme form of persecution at that.

One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

Persecution is a Broad Word


I have seen a numbers of writings lately that chastise American Christians for believing they are being persecuted. Compared to our brothers and sisters being driven from their homes and put to death in the Middle East, we suffer very little. When we cry persecution as a political tool or a response to losing former positions of privilege and protection, perhaps we do not claim that title correctly. But persecution in the Bible spans much more than being driven out, beaten, and put to death. 

A godly testimony will often result in ridicule, scorn, deprivation, physical harm, and even death. Jesus and his disciples were, are, and will be, subject to ridicule/insultBaker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Persecution is a broad word. People who love their evil ways or religious deception often ridicule people who speak the truth or live by God's moral standards. In recent years that cry has gone from experienced one on one, in the workplace, or from a group of peers to the internet, the mainstream media, and in many ways the mainstream culture. We feel this cultural distance more than anytime during our history. 

Scorn is rampant in the press, classrooms (all levels - elementary through masters/doctorate), in the media, again on the internet, and even from fellow "christians" or whole churches and denominations.
If we mean these types of statements and incidents when we claim persecution, the Bible stands behind us.

Thank God few of us have suffered deprivation, physical harm, or death because of speaking and doing right though some have suffered economic and social loss. May God forgive us and teach us when we respond to persecution in non-Biblical ways. May he forgive us for not following the example of the early church and scripture related to those who are suffering deprivation, physical harm, and even death in other places. (Think the offering collected to help the believers suffering in Jerusalem and Judea.)

Sometimes the Blessing Comes after the Doing


Now back to the beatitude for today. Jesus declares God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, whether at the hands of others in the church, co-religionists, or the world.

Wouldn't it be beautiful if that happened like flowers being strewn in our pathway, or miracles that show everyone that our God reigns and physically fights for those who are his. And he has, rarely. Nor does this verse depict those types of blessing.

Jesus says God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right (KJV - for righteous sake) enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Sometimes, especially when persecution is involved, the blessing comes after the doing what is right. Even Jesus, who perfectly did what is right, received most of his blessings interiorly and/or after his death and resurrection, not overtly in this life. Can we expect anything more?

What a Blessing that will be - inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven.


Photo Credits:
You Will Be Blessed via Pablo @ buffer.com

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