.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Faithful Words

-A A +A

Faithful Words

By The Staff

 

FAITHFUL WORDS Dr. Kenneth L. Faught     A Lesson on Persecution   “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (See Matthew 5:10-12). Have you ever been persecuted? Most of us feel that we are being persecuted anytime we don’t get our own way! Jesus offers a blessing in the form of a paradox; “Blessed are those who are persecuted.” We would tend to think that blessings and persecution are mutually exclusive. But there are qualifications. Jesus states the blessings associated with persecution are related to righteous living, being accused falsely, and suffering for my sake. Christ himself knew a great deal about persecution. Even before the crucifixion he was hounded by his critics and enemies, and threats were made upon his very life. In the Beatitudes he reminds us that Christians are not given an “exemption card” at their baptism – suffering is often the way of a true disciple. Followers of Jesus might find themselves revile, disgraced or slandered. Christians might be persecuted, face physical abuse orviolence. The temptation in those circumstances is to retaliate or quit, but the blessing is to claim the reward. Three attitudes toward persecution mark the true believer. First, Jesus says to “rejoice and be exceeding glad.” Amazing! Of course, we all know how enjoyable suffering is – how good it is for our blood pressure, our appetite, our sleep! Jesus is giving us a choice-react or rejoice. Second, Jesus says we are to remember that “great is our reward in heaven.” It’s a statement of fact. There is a heaven, and there is a reward. Third, Jesus calls us to remember that we are in good company, for “so persecuted they the prophets before you.” The Old Testament prophets, the New Testament disciples, Jesus, the apostles, and Christians through the ages have suffered for their faith. John Wesley said, “If you escape the persecution, you escape the blessing.” We can always choose to avoid persecution by not living the Christian life, by not sharing our faith, by not involving ourselves in ministry, and by not identifying with the church. Still, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted….” The Christian life is worth the risks.   Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church