Journal Entry // March 1, 2023
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (ESV)Matthew 5:10
Those that are satisfied in their hunger and thirst for righteousness will express this satisfaction through a life of mercy, purity, and peacemaking. They will be blessed themselves as they live a life devoted to blessing others. Don’t we all want to be involved and engaged with people who are merciful, pure in heart, and makers of peace? The last beatitude can be seen as a summation of what we can expect if we are living a satisfied life in the righteousness of Christ. This beatific life, this last blessed announcement that Jesus proclaims is to set a proper expectation of what we will receive in this world as we live a satisfied life in Christ. We can expect persecution. Jesus tells us that we are blessed when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. When others bring persecution because they see Jesus in us, we can rest in the understanding that ours is the kingdom of heaven. The assurance of salvation and our heavenly reward can be found in the trials and adversity that are brought upon us simply because we act like Jesus.
All of the beatitudes are difficult in their own way. Each presents a challenge to question and examine my heart. A call to go below the surface of appearance and truly examine my heart’s motivations and desires. This last one is a bit of a shock to the system though. After all this work and effort to live a blessed life rooted in the righteousness of Jesus, we do not expect to see persecution as the end. This is the standard for the Christian life that we are aiming for though. A standard of living so intimately with Christ, abiding in him alone, that I naturally assume everyone would be as excited as I am about the true heartfelt expressions of righteousness that flow from my everyday life. Don’t we all want to be like Jesus, and don’t we all want to be around those who demonstrate the righteousness of Christ?
If I were paying attention to the Word of God, I would have known this was the end result. Jesus lived this perfect blessed life before a watching world, and they hated him. Why does it surprise me that people will then hate me as I live out these same ideals in the same broken world? As I go about life reflecting Jesus and expressing his righteousness, I will be persecuted. The world will hate this righteous life being lived out before them because it will call into question their own life choices. The satisfied righteous life exposes the empty lies of the world and people will naturally despise this revelation.
The blessing in the persecution is rest and security. It’s fascinating that the very thing we don’t want in our life, persecution, is the very thing that confirms our salvation and reward in heaven with Jesus. Trials, struggles, adversity, and persecution are the great revealers of our character as we respond with our hearts. Those persecuted for righteousness’ sake will find joy in their heavenly reward. They will see the confirmation of Jesus as he prepares a place for them in heaven with him!