Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Call to Rejoice in Persecution

In Matthew 5:10-12, Jesus calls His followers to rejoice and be glad when they are persecuted for the sake of righteousness and for the sake of Christ. Daniel Doriani helps us see how in The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of a Disciple:
The call to rejoice in persecution demands that we reappraise our values. Jesus asks us to detach ourselves from this age and to recalibrate our ideas about time. We should tell ourselves, "Our time on earth is short; eternity is long. If we endure insults or privation in this life, they are short-lived in comparison to eternity. If we should die because of persecution, then we meet the Lord and taste his goodness earlier than we anticipated."

Jesus summons us to compare this life with eternity. The Bible affirms the value of this life. It teaches us what we need to know to life well on earth. It enables us to lead a morally upright and personally satisfying life. God tells us that he gives us his commands and decrees "for your good" (Deut. 10:13 ESV).
But Jesus also states a vital qualifier. Sometimes our "reward" for living well is persecution. Sometimes warriors scorn peacemakers. They are angry and want to stay that way, so they despise peacemakers. Jesus warns us that we may do almost everything right, and yet the only payoff may be opposition or persecution.

Evaluating this truth, and the truth of the Beatitudes, J.C. Ryle writes:
Let us learn how the teaching of Christ is sadly different from the practice of many professing Christians. Where shall we find men and women among those who go to churches and chapels, who are striving to live up to the pattern we have read of today? There is too much reason to fear that many baptized people are utterly ignorant of what the New Testament commands.
I pray the church will seek to be a people who know and take seriously the commands of Scripture and seek to live them out for the glory of God!

No comments: