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

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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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