“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11–12, NIV 1984)
My Musings – “Rejoice and be glad.” Yeah, that pretty much sums up our reaction to such things. Have I sufficiently masked my sarcasm? I didn’t think so. It’s in our human (sin) nature to trade insult for insult, persecution for persecution and accusation for accusation. But that is not Kingdom living. That’s not the kind of kingdom Jesus came to establish. That’s not the kind of subjects that He wants us to be.
While we, as Christians, are possibly being singled-out with this kind of treatment, it does not make us unique. There have been many before us that have been treated in like manner. There are many in the world today, that are being treated much more harshly than we are in the Western world. So, if we react in like manner today, when it is mostly words and restrictions on our freedoms, how will we respond when the ill-treatment becomes physical and our very lives are threatened? “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7, NIV 1984).
My Advice – There is one word in today’s text that is easy to overlook — “falsely.” When we are insulted, when we are persecuted, when people speak evil against us, let’s be sure that they do it falsely. Imitate Christ faithfully, in good times and bad, yes even to the point of death. It just might come to that some day. “Rejoice and be glad!”
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (1 Peter 4:12–16, NIV 1984).