So … we know why persecution happens to righteousness that is attached to a relationship with Jesus, and we have a better idea of what is and is not persecution.
Well, let me give you a few practical takeaways.
First, be weird.
A broken, humble person who hungers and thirsts after another world, and who seeks to bring that Kingdom into his enemies through means of mercy, sincerity, and peacemaking … that is a WEIRD person! And the world is easily given to the persecution of those who are DIFFERENT.
Second, embrace the blessing.
First, we are blessed and should rejoice because of persecution on account of being like Jesus because it helps us understand and more greatly value our true treasure: HEAVEN. When we are persecuted, we get a “bad taste in our mouth” with regard to the world. Ours is not the kingdom of this world, but the Kingdom of Heaven … oh, and by the way, GREAT is our reward there!
Second, we are blessed and should rejoice because of persecution on account of being like Jesus because it validates our identity in Christ. Jesus says, “… for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” In other words, when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, we are assured that we are on God’s team. It’s an assurance of salvation. I’m like Moses! I’m like Jeremiah! I’m like Hosea! I’m like Nathan! Thank you, Jesus … I’m on your team!
Which leads me to a third reason to embrace the blessing, namely that this is what fuels evangelism. You’ve heard it said that the “blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” This is similar: the persecution of the saints is the fuel for church growth. Acts 5:40ff is the most obvious place to see this in the Bible.
After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. 41 Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name. 42 Every day in the temple, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
Lastly, if you’re not a Christian, take stock.
Can I make this practical for you today? According to this passage, our whole outlook upon everything that happens to us should be governed by these three things: our realization of who we are (God’s team!), a consciousness of where we are going (heaven), and a knowledge of who/what awaits us when we get there (Jesus).
Those are also great questions for all of us right now. Whose team are you on? Where are you going? Who or what awaits you when you get there? There are only two ways to live, and these questions get at the way you are choosing.
I urge you, unbelievers, to respond today to the call of Christ. Be broken in heart, mourn the sinful condition of your heart, believe in the work of Christ on your behalf, and live your life hungry and thirsty for righteousness with acts of mercy, purity and peace.
Rob is Teaching Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.