By Van Duvall
Eight blessings from Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount. Pastor Jeremy has described The Beatitudes as a kind of “new” commandments.
Today we are devoting ourselves to the eighth beatitude, Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” NRSV.
The word “Blessed” could mean “Happy”. We should be happy knowing that our wonderful prize is the kingdom of heaven.
Persecuted as written in scripture refers to being oppressed, put to death, harassed, or ridiculed for believing in Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior To follow Christ’s example.
Why are Christians persecuted? Because the sinful world is offended, or perhaps jealous, of our relationship with the Lord and Savior, They get their joy from being a part of the world. Not like believers who are only in the world and find their joy in the Lord. Those who persecute know their behavior is wrong and they need to persecute the followers of Jesus to rationalize that behavior.
The word righteous in this sense refers to doing what is right in the eyes of God (Coram Deo) rather than the eyes of the world (Coram Mundo). Even though the later can also be a good thing. Not to be confused with self-righteousness: the belief that one is more virtuous than others, sanctimonious. Perhaps like the Pharisees who’s righteousness was Hollow, empty, and superficial.
Six Beatitudes use the word “Will” referring to the future. Two of the Beatitudes use the word “is”. Matthew 5:3 and Matthew 5:10. “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. The Kingdom of heaven IS ours.
Jesus’ sermon teaches us how to live and behave. How to treat our neighbors as well as our enemies. The Beatitudes are not works describing how to get accepted to the kingdom of heaven. (There is only one way to heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. The Redeemer). Rather, the Beatitudes are a guide telling us to shine the light of Jesus, to be the salt of the earth, to live as Jesus lived. To be powerful “Infuencers”, Yes, there were influencers well before Instagram.
Doing what is right is not always easy, but it is necessary. The beatitudes are an expression of faith from those of us who are believers and who know and love Christ.
As a military veteran and a Deputy Sheriff, we are tasked with enforcing the laws and with keeping society safe. You can imagine that not everyone is a fan. There is a segment who despises us and persecute us for what we do. Not all military and Law enforcement are Christians, but those of us who are, do our jobs for righteousness sake.
We in the United States are blessed (Happy) to live in a free society. Where we, for the most part, are able to worship without persecution. However, believers are occasionally ridiculed for doing what is right according to scripture. Yet we must keep up the good fight for righteousness’ sake.
We thank you for your wisdom through the Beatitudes. Let us love our neighbors and our enemies. Let us pray for those who persecute us for righteousness in the name of Jesus. Guide us to do the right thing as the Lord has taught us. Even though it is not attainable, let us strive to be perfect just as God is perfect. Let everything we think, everything we speak, everything we do be glorifying to God the father. We praise your name,