Righteousness and Persecution

Righteousness and Persecution

Conflict on the Jesus Path

The eighth installment in our learning from the Sermon on the Mount states:

  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.   Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you – Matthew 5:10-12

No need of a rocket science degree to see the picture the Lord Christ draws here.  The closer you adhere to the Jesus Path the more likely you will encounter negative remarks, anger and persecution.  And ironically, persecution and conflict all arises out of your conscious decision to walk in righteousness – to abandon the old ways, and to live righteously.

The Aim is Righteousness

Did you notice as you’ve traveled with me through the first 12 verses in the 5th chapter of Matthew the emphasis Jesus places upon righteousness?

  • The first four statements (Beatitudes) end with “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”
  • The second four statements end with “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”
  • The first statements are a call to empty the Believer for availability to righteousness
    • Poor in Spirit who humble and serve
    • Those who Mourn over their need
    • The Meek who give all to God
  • The second statements are a call to fill the Believer into a life of righteousness
    • The overflowing of Mercy
    • The making of a Pure Heart
    • The power to make peace

The person on the Jesus Path is emptied by God to become righteous – then they are filled by God to become righteous.  And then, Christ alerts us to the certainty of conflict and persecution due to very righteousness God seeks to work in us. Check out these verses:

  • We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God – Acts 14:22
  • Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted – 2 Timothy 2:12

At the Core of Conflict from Others

The reason people get fussy with Believers is explained to us in a passage from the Book of Luke (Luke 16:13-15).  In summary fashion: persecution and conflict arise from others because (1) of their love of something that is unrighteous and (2) their need to protect and justify themselves in it.  We join the passage where Christ states  No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.   What was the reaction to this message by those who listened, and why?

  • The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they scoffed at Him
  • You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight

They loved something unrighteousness and they struck out at Christ to justify themselves.   You will get grief not only from strangers, but from those in your family and your close circle of acquaintance.

  • They are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you – 1 Peter 4:4

People will react against you.  But what happens so often is that we want to avoid conflict.  Think of your circle of friends – the folk the you relax with; would they see your interest in Jesus as hypocrisy?  When you hang out with them do you compromise your righteousness because you know they feel differently?   Do you accept their codes of behavior; their standards of modesty, their quest for indulgence – knowing you are not walking on Bible Ground?  Don’t get me wrong, I get that.  It’s hard to make waves.  But the Lord makes our mission among others very clear:

  • We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God – 2 Corinthians 5:20

Our task is to reconcile people to God.  This requires a few things of us:

  • To reconcile is to meet objections
  • To meet objections is to know what those objections are
  • To know what they are means we must learn about them
  • To learn about them we must be among those who hold them
  • To be among people who hold objections to the Way, will bring persecution

When we live in righteousness, pursuing the Jesus Path with intention and honesty, we are going to encounter conflict.  Those to whom we are sent – those the Good God brings into our circle of influence; those to whom we are to be Ambassadors among – are going to grow uncomfortable about what we stand for.  Because like you and I prior to our discovery of Jesus – they love things that are unrighteous and they will fight and strike out to justify themselves.  But take courage:

  • These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world – John 16:33

Thanks so much for taking your precious time to read this text.   I hope the video will be helpful in filling in the blanks I’ve left.  Lord Bless You as You Go.

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