Matthew 5:11-12 New International Version (NIV)
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad,because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Last time I took a look at what it was to be persecuted for righteousness sake – for acting in a morally correct manner. And I pointed out that the verse didn’t mean to be persecuted for being a Christian, but for making the choice to live a moral life. This week’s Scripture is all about being persecuted for being a Christian or living a Christlike lifestyle.
Jesus uses words that we typically use for verbal abuse, and they are but looking further into the word “insult” actually has a stronger note of something that could be viewed as physical abuse. The Greek word, “oneidizō “ is what is used here and one of Strong’s definitions is to cast in one’s teeth. Gives me a picture of someone trying to bite or rip apart the object of their hatred. He (Jesus) ends by saying you will be falsely accused of all kinds of evil things. Here the Greek word is, “poneros” which is meant as an active form of evil in actions and speech and was used to describe Satan and demons.
Jesus, himself accused of being in league with the devil, and the Pharisees believed that all the good He did was done by the power of the devil and not God Almighty. Jesus also points out that the prophets were also persecuted this way. Persecution is nothing new it has been going on for as long as there have been people on the earth.
So, what is it about Christians and the prophets that cause people to be so insulted and enraged? It goes back to my last discussion on how we mirror the things that someone wishes they could be and are not by choice. Living a Christian lifestyle is to truly be a servant, to promote health and healing in those that are hurting and are unable to care for themselves. This is so contrary to today’s lifestyle that promotes living for self and using any means necessary to get a desired end result. Any charitable lifestyle is contrary to secular lifestyle and will be seen as a visible condemnation to the person living a lifestyle built on selfishness.
So, my question is this, “Are you being persecuted for your Christlike lifestyle?” I would say that if you are not, then you aren’t living your life loud enough. I can’t sugar coat this to make it more palatable for most of my readers. Rediscover the lifestyle we were meant to live as Christians. Honor the leaders around you who are trying to bring you back to the simple loving lifestyle you were meant to live. I am not saying don’t take care of yourself and your basic needs, what I am saying is get rid of whatever keeps you from being open to the mission of Christ,
“to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
Verse 12 gives us the reason we can go into this attitude with joy,
“12 Rejoice and be glad,because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” We are not alone in our persecution, we are part of group of people who have stood up for God Almighty before us.