Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Each beatitude is challenging, but I find this one especially difficult. I don’t face real persecution for my faith. Sure, some disagree with my understanding of how to live a Christlike life. But most who do call themselves Christian as well. Our country protects the freedom to
practice religion. This doesn’t mean living out my faith is easy. But I haven’t faced anything close to the subtle and obvious persecution those in other countries have experienced for believing what’s right and acting to promote God’s justice.
Persecution isn’t an easy topic, but we often approach it glibly. When some grossly misuse this text, it challenges the rest of us to wrestle with what being persecuted for righteousness’ sake truly means. Not being allowed to force our religious language and views onto others, especially in shared public space, is not persecution. Being prevented from practicing our faith, being punished for worshiping, or being killed for living out our calling certainly is.
Jesus never promised that living a Christlike life would be easy. He often addressed the difficulties that his followers would face. As daily challenges arise, we must seriously consider how we should act and what example we must set. Sometimes we let political, social, or even religious views cloud our faith perspective. We fail to see how our actions or inactions are not examples of righteousness but instead contribute to the world’s chaos and hurt. For those who pursue God’s way of righteousness, the love of God’s kingdom surrounds them.
What trials have I faced for my beliefs and actions? How did I experience God’s grace in those situations?
God, we pray for those who experience persecution on behalf of your justice. Help us to be a positive presence and voice for you. Give us courage. Amen.