“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit Me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.” Matthew 5:10-12, The Message
Question: how many of you have been ridiculed, insulted, or otherwise for living a Christ-like lifestyle? What about when trying to give Godly, Biblical wisdom to someone? Chances are you either have encountered this, or you aren’t living that different from the world! When we think of persecution, we usually think of being jailed, beat, run out of town or executed because we are a Christian. This is persecution in it’s worst way – which isn’t happening in this country just yet (although it is stepping in that direction – house bill 1913 looks like it could lay down framework in which eventually pastors who speak out against gay marriage could be thrown in jail – http://www.prophecynewsheadlines.com/2009/04/13/christian-pastors-worried-by-hr-1913/ ). But, this verse includes ‘put you down’, and ‘speak lies about you to discredit Me’. Many people, even sometimes those who claim to be ‘Christian’, seem to love pulling hypocrisy out of the lifestyles of those who try to follow Jesus. It seems they forget hypocrisy is a human characteristic, and everyone is going to be a hypocrite! Sometimes I’m a hypocrite. You are sometimes. But it seems these people love to find it in those of us who try to live like Jesus, and overlook it everywhere else. I’m not saying we should turn a blind eye to our faults, not at all. But we need to realize we don’t change overnight, and sometimes we slip up – and just because others like to find our faults, doesn’t mean God is unhappy with us. Our entire lifespan should be evidence of God’s grace, working in us to purify us and make us more like Christ.
I’m sure I don’t need to explain how frustrating it is to be ridiculed for what you believe or live out: our intentions are sincere; we have the cure for a diseased generation! What we have to say might hurt, but it’s done in love! Why won’t they listen?! Why do they mock the one thing that can set them free?! That’s not our battle – we can’t force people to see or believe something if they are set against it. But in the above verse, Jesus gives us His comfort. He knows our motives, and He gives us His reward for reaching out even to people who despise us and Him.
Just remember if you’re being ridiculed (or persecuted) for the Word’s sake, the Word will not return void. Even if it seems like there’s no results from all of your witnessing and preaching, it doesn’t mean you didn’t plant a seed in someone’s heart. Besides, they see that following Christ is unlike any ‘religion’ – it’s worth laying down your life for, so it must be something different.
On the lighter side of things, if you’re getting yourself in trouble by living a Christ-like lifestyle, you’re in good company! The very last part of this verse reminds us this treatment is par for the course – but that’s alright since we will have eternal rewards, and God as our comforter.
The BOTTOM LINE: If you are preaching the Word with a pure heart and the right motives and it offends people, don’t worry. Jesus understands the frustration – he went through the same thing.