Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
I went to a hockey game at the St. Louis Arena in early 1988. The St. Louis Blues were a very popular team – at least in St. Louis. They were the only winter sports team in town (the NFL Cardinals had moved to Arizona the year before and there is no NBA team in St. Louis).
My friend and I enjoyed the game – both of us being big hockey fans.
But while I enjoyed the ending of the game, I didn’t enjoy the outcome.
The St. Louis Blues had just lost to the Chicago Blackhawks. I have been a ‘Hawks fan all my life and I was wearing a ‘Hawks sweater. While I was happy Chicago had won, I didn’t enjoy the “beer bath” I received from irate Blues fans.
It was a long ride home in the late winter night soaked to the skin with the local brew.
I expected it, though. Being a Chicago fan in St. Louis, I expected animosity from their fans.
But that doesn’t hold a candle to what Christians face in this world – especially in the Far and Middle East.
Our calling as his disciples is to show mercy, be pure in heart, and bring peace to others.
This is a good thing for a lot of people.
But for others is will cause them to hate us and persecute us.
Persecution takes on various forms. In the first couple of centuries after Jesus Christians were persecuted usually to death by several means – crucifixion, being fed to the lions, boiling oil, and so on.
Today, Christians are also brutally persecuted in the Middle East by various means.
For us, we are so blessed to live in a country where we do not have to fear for our lives because we are Christians.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t face persecution.
People hate us for being Christian peacemakers, show Christian mercy, and for striving to be pure in heart.
People make fun of us for setting aside time in our lives personal devotions, Bible study and worship.
Don’t let that stop you! You may be scared of persecution. I know I am. But remember this – you cannot be hurt! Not really.
Oh, they may take your life – “goods, fame, child, and wife. Let these all be gone! Though these all be gone, our victory has been won! The Kingdom of God ours remaineth!” (based on A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, Lutheran Service Book #656)
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