Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…
We have a habit of associating persecution only with ‘non-Christian’ countries and oppressive regimes. Especially in democratic societies we tend automatically to think that persecution belongs to a world we don’t really know. The idea that we may also be among those Jesus was addressing in this statement seldom occurs to us.
But consider this: any time someone has mocked your belief in Christ, any time you were rejected because you weren’t ‘cool’ enough to participate in actions that jarred your conscience, any time you suffered unjust criticism for taking a stand for Biblical truth, you were persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Persecution doesn’t have to be about violence and imprisonment. Persecution can be subtle and covert as well as obvious and life-threatening. Persecution for the sake of righteousness will definitely come in some form to all who sincerely set out to follow Christ, no matter where we live in the world: Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Tim. 3:12
When we look at the life of Jesus, however, it becomes obvious that persecution because of righteousness will more often than not come from the self-proclaimed ‘righteous’. It was man-made, man-controlled, man-centred religion that persecuted Jesus far more than unbelievers or the civic authority. It was scripture-wielding, theologically educated, law-keeping religious leaders who:
Slandered Him (Matt. 9:34)
Complained about Him (Luke 15:2)
Plotted against Him (Mark 3:6)
Tried to trick Him (John 8:3)
Spied on Him (Luke 6:7)
Tested Him (Matt. 19:3)
Accused Him (Luke 11:53, 54)
Mocked Him (Luke 16:14)
Sought to control Him (Luke 19:39)
Sought to stone Him (John 8:59)
And finally rejected Him (John 11:53)
Hmmm….seems it can be dangerous to stand for righteousness, especially among the so-called ‘righteous’.
The point? Don’t confuse righteousness with religion; don’t confuse the Kingdom with your local church or your family’s denomination. The traditions of men will not save your soul or negate your need for a Saviour. God doesn’t care two figs for your religious pedigree, He cares about righteousness. And if we learn anything at all from the gospels it’s that righteousness and man-controlled religion (“Christianity” included) are at war, and it’s a war to the death.
One thing is certain. We can’t live in Christ-righteousness and live in dead, legalistic religion at the same time. Sooner or later we will have to choose and if we choose righteousness we may very well find ourselves on the receiving end of some very ‘devout’ but hateful persecution.
To be able to stand for Christ in the midst of persecution produces the fruit of self-control in the Bride. God has ordained it that trials and tribulations serve only to refine her, not destroy her. Self-control is about responding rather than reacting. The Bride’s thoughts and actions are a response to the Bridegroom in the realm of the Spirit, not a self-focused reaction to the circumstances around her in this world.
The Bride is the light-filled city set on a hill. In the radiance of her light darkness is revealed as nothing more than false light. The Bridal company presently being raised up will, by their righteous nature, reveal all false righteousness in the world and in the church. That which is not of Christ will be uncovered for the deceptive counterfeit that it truly is and so will persecute the Bride ‘for righteousness’ sake’ (Matt. 13:43).
…..that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, Phl. 2:15.
Final Bride-Atude coming soon!
©Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2012
- Bride-Atude Four: The Dove Eyed Lovers (breadforthebride.wordpress.com)
- Bride-Atude Five: The Blood Soaked Mercy Bearers (breadforthebride.wordpress.com)
- The Bride-Atudes (breadforthebride.wordpress.com)
- Bride-Atude One: The Joyful Poor (breadforthebride.wordpress.com)
- Bride-Atude Six: The Greatest in the Kingdom (breadforthebride.wordpress.com)
- Bride-Atude Two: The Passionate Mourners (breadforthebride.wordpress.com)
- Bride-Atude Seven: The Good Will Ambassadors (breadforthebride.wordpress.com)
- Bride-Atude Three: The Mighty Meek (breadforthebride.wordpress.com)
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Thank you for sharing, and God bless you.
Thanks for dropping by Scott!