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Back to the Basics: Week 8: Why we are Persecuted for Righteousness

religious-persecution

Matthew 5:10New International Version (NIV)

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

Many people think this verse means to be persecuted because of their Christian faith, but that is not is not what it really means. To fully understand this verse you need to first understand that the word Jesus uses here mean to righteousness. The word he uses is “dikaiosynē” pronounced, “dē-kī-o-sü’-nā.” It means: in a broad sense: the state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God

 

  • the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God
  • integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting
  • in a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due.

 

 

It means living moral rightness, tolerance, and love. Living the life that Christ gave his life for so we could attain that acceptance by God. Whether you believe in original sin or original blessing, we all sin, we are all incapable of truly being righteous without Christ’s gift of salvation. To truly be accepted by God, we need to deal with the wrongness in our lives – now I’m talking conscious and unconscious sins and transgressions. Many times we don’t know or recognize when we have hurt someone whether it’s someone we know or don’t know. It is the example and reflection of our lack of love, tolerance and caring for everyone around us. It’s our natural response to judge and criticize everything in or around our lives, even if we don’t know – mostly don’t know – why someone is the way they are. Our need to make everyone fit in our box of what we think is moral rightness.

 

So, what does moral rightness look like besides just finding ourselves acceptable to God. It is walking in the lifestyle of the Fruit of the Spirit and the principles Jesus taught and the example he gave us. Jesus was sent to save every human being on the planet, he wouldn’t condemn someone out of hand because of his world views, he would listen, question, and then lovingly correct or help them understand God’s view. It’s the way Christ wants us all to live. There is freedom in this way of life. No longer are we concerned with being critical or judgmental, we are concerned with giving another person real unconditional love.

 

Why does this lifestyle attract persecution? We are all reflections or mirrors that let other people see that there are things in their life that hinder them from living a true life of freedom, and that is not pleasant. It is a reminder that they are not what they could be. This causes anger, and anger turns to hatred, that turns to tormenting the person that is making them feel bad about themselves. It goes back to the splinter in your brother’s eye when there is a plank in your own.

 

Now, there are many ways that we can be persecuted from shunning, to segregation, to being physically threatened or beaten or killed. No one is immune to persecution, we all have or will experience this probably more than once in our lives. And there is no avoiding it.

 

How do we come out on top of persecution? We realize that it is not necessarily us that is causing the anger being wrought on us, it is the self anger of the other person giving the persecution. We are just reflecting how they wish the could be, and haven’t figured out how to attain what we have. Jesus’ solution to this is to pray for those who persecute you, that they would become willing to see and hear what God has been trying to tell them about how He wants them to be – loving vessels that He can work through.

 

This is by no means easy. It’s probably the hardest thing for humans to do. Our human nature says to hit back – make the other person hurt as badly as they are hurting you. We need to come to the realization that the other person is hurting far more than the abuse they are giving us. It is remarkably like a wounded animal being cornered. So, live your life in compassion for these hurting people and continue setting your righteous example – there is no telling who will be touched and healed by your lifestyle of righteousness.

 

References

 

NIV from www.BibleGateway.com

www.BlueLetterBible.org

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Back to the Basics: Week 7: The Ministry of Reconciliation

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Matthew 5:9 (NIV) 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

 

As children of God/Divine we are called to a ministry of reconciliation. But what does a ministry of reconciliation look like and what kind of reconciliation are we talking about. How will our world change if every child of God/Divine took this mandate seriously and lived the life of a peacemaker?

First, let’s take a look at what reconciliation is. Dictionary.com shows 3 points describing reconciliation. To being with it is an act of reconciling, as when former enemies agree to an amicable truce. It’s also, the state of being reconciled, as when someone becomes resigned to something not desired.  Lastly, it’s the process of making consistent or compatible. So reconciliation is an act, a state of being, and a process.

 

Like the other characteristics of the Beatitudes this is also a conscious decision to behave in a certain way that is contrary to our natural way of life and thinking. It is actively stepping outside our comfort zones and allowing the Divine/God make us into reflections of His loving self. Letting His love become our life’s motivation. So how does a person who is naturally concerned with self become a child of reconciliation.

 

To begin with we (all people, regardless of what our faith looks like) need to get to the root of our differences. To do that we need to ask questions and really listen to what the other person says when they answer. We need to decide to be a people who truly desire to understand not only ourselves, but the other person involved in the conversation. We need to allow the spirit of wisdom to control our actions and our words so that they become ruled by compassion and love. This will result in an atmosphere of tolerance that will surround all people who actively pursue a life of reconciliation.  

 

This is not an overnight solution, it is hard work, and many times it will seem like trying to attain the impossible. But humanity  has the ability to be resilient, flexible, and adaptable to new ideas and ways of doing things. Look at how progress has changed our world and how simple communication has changed since time began. People evolve and grow. It will take people willing to step up and take an active role in creating grassroots organizations that promote reconciliation and growth to all people world wide.  It will take people willing to make the changes necessary to renew our planet and restore the damage that humans have made that have poisoned the resources all creatures need to thrive on this planet. This is our home, and we (all people) have trashed it very much like a child will trash their room when they are angry. Keep in mind that when we think we are punishing the people that have made us angry and resentful – we are really punishing ourselves in a greater measure.     

References

 

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Dictionary.com