“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Jesus, Matthew 5:10, NIV, accessed from BibleGateway.com
Let’s face it, living a righteous, Godly life has never been easy. There has always been opposition. The prophets suffered greatly for their calling. John the Baptist, Jesus and many others were murdered for their faith. Early Christians met in secret because of the persecution and death they faced if discovered.
Notice that Jesus did not say fight back. He said we are blessed when people insult us, make fun of us, persecute us. We are blessed (made happy) because it means we are living in a way that is different than ”the world” and people are taking notice. Persecution means others are recognizing the Christ within us.
In the world we live in now the temptation to not only fight back, but to kill and destroy the opposition is stronger than ever. Even “good church going folks” are falling prey to this. Some pastors are even telling their congregants to arm themselves. This is not the way of Jesus.
Remember we are blessed when the world turns against us. It means we are doing something right.
Dig a Little Deeper:
How do you handle persecution against your faith/”way of life?” Are you willing to take an unpopular stand to state you are for what is right? –Regardless of the cost to you?
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
— Jesus, Matthew 5:9, NIV, accessed from BibleGateway.com
It seems that many Christians have trouble with the idea of Jesus as a peacemaker and even more trouble with the idea of themselves as peacemakers. After all what can one person in this world do to stop the violence and pave the way for peace?
The answer to this is simple. We stop being violent. We become peace. We live, breathe and act out of peace. One person. One kind loving act. That is how it is done. Is it easy? Of course not. But is it possible? Yes, but we cannot look at the whole big picture of violence in the world because it will be overwhelming.
No one can wave a magic wand and make all war and violence stop. But we can calm the violence and anger within ourselves. Next, we bring our families, churches, and communities together in peace. That’s how peace spreads. One person at a time.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
— Jesus, The Bible, Matthew 5:6, NIV, Accessed by Bible Gateway.com
Some precious souls can do many good deeds; they feed the hungry, help heal the sick and wounded, comfort the abused, visit the imprisoned and do many other good and honorable things. Yet these same people are often, themselves, rejected, misunderstood, seen as prey either socially, financially or politically and often do they cry out in their anguish for fair treatment.
How can we be an instrument of God to help the person seeking fair treatment find peace in God?
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
– – Jesus, Matthew 5:5 The Bible, NIV, Accessed via BibleGateway.org
Meekness in our world is often seen as weakness. But if we look at meekness as power under control we see a different picture. While power, position and prestige may be what is valued in the world today, and at the time this teaching was given, Jesus was living and teaching a way of life that would show the world God.
What does living a live of meekness or power under control look like in today’s world?
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
— Jesus, Matthew 5:4 NIV, accessed through BibleGateway.com
People who suffer from various forms of discrimination and unjustness at the hands of nonbelievers do mourn for the indignation of such treatment and for those who perform it because while not knowing it, such people, in reality, do not know God. They mourn for not only the injustice they feel by the perpetuation of the injustice dealt toward them but also for the loss of peace for planet earth by the expression of such hatred from nonbelievers and those who do not know how to express their faith.
How do modern world citizens mourn for the lost possibilities
of a manifestation of Heaven on Earth?
How does the Holy Spirof God comfort us through this?
“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.” — The Bible Matthew Chapter 5:1-2, New International Version, accessed via Bible Gateway.com.
Beginning today we will be considering that great teaching session of Jesus usually referred to as the “Sermon on the Mount.” This sermon takes up three chapters of the book of Matthew (5, 6 and 7) and includes lots of good stuff. This is where Jesus talks about being salt and light in the world, murder, oaths, “an eye for an eye,” giving to the needy, prayer, laying up treasures in heaven, judging others, ask, seek, knock, true and false prophets and disciples and much, much, more.
But this lengthy teaching begins with what we call The Beatitudes, that series of statements beginning with the words “blessed are.” We will be going through these verse by verse, one per day.
Dig a Little Deeper: As we read about these think about the people Jesus calls blessed — is it shocking? How does it go against conventional wisdom or popular culture?
The two words I try to live by are be nice. Those are words I heard a lot growing up and still remember my mother’s voice saying them in a rather sharp tone, followed by my full given name. These were said when my mother thought I was doing something wrong. It took me a long time to get past the thought that I was not a nice person.
Being nice is not easy, especially in today’s culture. I am often told I am “too nice.” I shouldn’t try to help people. People will take advantage. Yes, some might, but that doesn’t mean we stop trying to help where we can.
For me those two words sum up the teachings of the New Testament. Let me get out my Bible here and show a few examples.
These first two passages talk about the Fruit of the Spirit or what the lives of those who follow God should look like.
First from the book of Galatians:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Next we have one of my favorite verses from Philippians which reminds us to guard our thoughts, because with them we create our reality.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8[Full Chapter]
In the book of Matthew Chapters 5-7 we find what is referred to as the Sermon on the Mount which was given by the Master Teacher Jesus, beginning with the “beatitudes. The list of people Jesus calls “blessed” is interesting. It’s not the warriors, judges, politicians or millionaires Jesus calls blessed, but the “poor in spirit”, “they that mourn”, “the meek”, “they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness”,”the merciful’, “the pure in heart”,” the peacemakers and “the persecuted”. In other words the “nice” people. Those who follow the Spirit of God that lives in each one of us. I encourage you to go ahead sometime today and read the 5th, 6th and 7th chapters of Matthew because Jesus had much more to say on this topic.
So where am I going with this? I am trying to lead us to put down our weapons, stop shouting, stop judging and feeling like we have to vindicate and take retribution for God and for Christianity. It’s time to finally dig in and connect with Spirit, follow the life and teachings of the Master Teacher, and just be nice.