Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:10
It may seem strange that Jesus should pass from peacemaking to persecution, from the work of reconciliation to the experience of hostility. This eighth and final beatitude reminds us that faithfulness to Jesus do require us to endure suffering or the shedding of our blood. However, the persecution arising from unrighteous behavior is not blessed. Persecution will be the lot of all who seek to live in harmony with the Word of God for the sake of righteousness. First, these are those who uphold God’s standard of truth, justice and purity. Beloved, persecutions and opposition will come from the world and from those within the professing church (Acts 20:28-31) refuse to compromise with the present evil society or the lifestyle of lukewarm believers. (Rev. 2, 3: 1-4, 14-22).When believers go through this, what they have to do is to rejoice for those who suffer most God imparts the highest blessing. (2 Cor.1:5). Second, Christians must beware of the temptation to compromise God’s will in order to avoid shame, embarrassment or loss. If we fail through our own fault, we should expect to suffer negative consequences. Jesus is talking about the blessing of being persecuted for doing right. There is a sad reality among believers today, that is, ‘fear of persecution’ or ‘stress-free adjustment to evil’. Fear of persecution or stress-free lives, among some believers, are clear signs that our faith is lacking in courage or we are not serious about our heavenly race. Partly responsible for this attitude among Christians today is the theology of “me I no go suffer”. In this theology of “me I no go suffer” we are often told that we are “the King’s kids” and that we should not suffer as God’s royal people, for godly Christians don’t suffer since we are God’s children. Don’t we belong to the King of kings?” While we do belong to the King of kings whose kingdom will last forever, the present age that is passing away fights against the expansion of Jesus’ kingdom reign. Jesus’ kingdom (which is identified with God’s kingdom or the kingdom of Heaven) has been established, but it has not yet been realized in full hence we pray “thy kingdom come’. So, we will experience persecution until His glorious return, as scripture says “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (1 Peter 4:12-16).
On October 31, 2010, at least 58 Christians were slaughtered during Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Salvation Syria Eastern Catholic Church in Baghdad. In July 2014, the terrorist marked remaining Christian homes in Mosul – and advised residents that they have 24 hours to leave, convert to Islam, or die. But the Lord promised those that suffer for His sake will be rewarded with the Kingdom of Heaven!
- Pray that persecuted believers would not loss their courage to fearlessly tell others about Jesus.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit would strengthen all those who are suffering as a result of their faith.
- Pray that they will remain strong in faith and trust despite physical and psychological abuse.
- Pray that they will be able to forgive those who persecute them or who fail to support them.
- Pray that they will experience and know love, joy, peace and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
Exercise: Always remember to pray for persecuted Christians all over the world.
Memory Verse: 1 Peter 3:14