Sunday, March 16, 2014

Monday March 17, 2014 Matthew 5:10

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -- Matthew 5:10

Like Kim said earlier in these reflections, I picture Jesus sitting, with his followers gathered around him, as he shares this wisdom. I try to discover what the words meant to the original listener, and what they mean today.  Jesus is talking to people who know what it means to be persecuted. They are living in tough times, maybe in fear of their very lives, when they follow this man Jesus, and are thirsting for hope, reassurance and comfort. A few decades later, at the time the gospels were written down and Jesus’ words recorded, these verses might have been even more meaningful to those who heard them.
Which makes me search for the relevance to my life today:  hungering and thirsting for God paints a clear picture; to be “meek”, humble and patient, striving to show mercy – to have empathy and compassion – are concrete goals; would it be we all have a pure heart.
But I am not persecuted. I live in a free society. I don’t have to have to worry about losing my job, or my home, or my freedom, or my life. I worship where and whom I please. What does persecution have to do with me? Well, perhaps “persecution” lurks out there even in my safe environment, in the dreaded “what will others say?”
Being part of the kingdom of heaven depends on never measuring actions by society’s values, never hesitating to do the right thing because it might be awkward, or open you to embarrassment or ridicule. It depends on putting God first, not thinking of the consequences or what other people might think.  --Marilyn McCarter


Kelly Supek said...

Amen! How hard that is to do some times, and how inspiring it is to see when done! May let God lead us all to shed His light and be the example!!!

Tracy said...

For some reason, when I have read this passage in the past, my mind has glossed over the "for righteousness sake" and dwelled on the persecution. But I see now that the kingdom of heaven is not just for being persecuted but for those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, as Marilyn points out. In our comfy North American world, we will seldom if ever face the type of persecution Jesus' original listeners faced but we may well encounter ridicule, or exclusion or interpersonal difficulties for being true to our faith.

For I have come to turn “ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ (Matthew 10:35, 36 NIV)

It can be very difficult and painful when our devotion or actions come up against non believing family members who may criticize or even be openly hostile to what we do for The Lord. The pain of not being able to share our joy in Christ with loved ones is bad enough but to feel " persecuted" is doubly painful. Yet these passages tell me to persevere. My own faith gives me hope that if I do, they might be won over and I pray this is the case.