Persecution

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Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:10 NIV).

In the eighth and final Beatitude Jesus tells those who are truly poor in spirit, mourning over their sin, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart and peacemaking they can expect persecution. The more a person is transformed into Christ’s image, walking in His Ways, whose allegiance is to Him and His Kingdom, the more one will face hostility and persecution from the world.

The Beatitudes end with the same reward as the first “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” All of these Beatitudes go together. We cannot pick and choose which of the Beatitudes we are going to follow. While some may be easier than others, we are called to live in righteousness, imitating Jesus.

Matthew continues saying, “‘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'” (vv 11-12).

In these verses Jesus moves from the third person plural to the second person plural. While Jesus was speaking to His disciples/followers at that time, the same is true for us today: “Blessed are y’all when people insult y’all, persecute y’all and falsely say all kinds of evil against y’all because of me…great is you all’s reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before y’all.

One of the things I love the most about Christianity is that it is NOT cookie-cutter. Each believer is unique, individually made with gifts and personal convictions tailored made for them. While the Body of Christ as a whole suffers persecution, so does each individual Christian. It is important to remember that not all Christians are “persecuted because of righteousness” in the same way.

Worldwide it is becoming ever more difficult to follow Christ. There is a price to pay. It is wise for all of us everywhere to ask God to prepare us and to help us endure the persecution that we will face. We need to ask Jesus to prepare us to endure because we are commanded to rejoice and be glad. Jesus has told us what to expect and He has also told us how to respond, rejoicing and being glad.

In Acts 5:41, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for [Jesus].” Jesus has left us no room to sulk, feel sorry for ourselves or be dismayed by persecution. Because Jesus commands us to rejoice and be glad in our persecution we are not to seek revenge nor retaliation.

Because Christ was persecuted, believers will be persecuted as well. Jesus reminds us that the prophets who went before us suffered persecution. Hebrews 11 recounts the great heroes of the faith and how all of them suffered in some way, never seeing the Promised Messiah. The writer of Hebrews then says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (12:1-3). 

We do not need to seek out persecution, if we are living for Christ, being transformed more and more into His image, insults and hardships will come. As the world persecuted Christ, so too will the world persecute His people. I do not claim to know what persecution, trials and hardships look like in your life, but I pray that you will be able to endure knowing that the Holy Spirit empowers and the Son intercedes on your behalf to the glory of God the Father.

Dear reader, as we conclude our time in the Beatitudes together, I want to thank you for walking through each of these with me. I am thankful that in the Christian life we never walk alone! The Beatitudes are just the beginning of the “Sermon on the Mount” and I am excited to see where the Lord takes us in the posts ahead. If there is ever any way that I can pray for you or come beside you and encourage you, NEVER hesitate to email me through my contact page.

Father God, may we never stop living the Beatitudes. May we never stop growing in our character and conduct. Lord God, prepare us to be persecuted because of righteousness. Help us to be poor in spirit because in both of these Beatitudes the reward is the kingdom of heaven. Lord God, remind us that we are Kingdom citizens who are to do Your will and way on this earth. Lord God, regardless of where we live may we be reminded that our allegiance is to you first and foremost. Lord God, as this world grows ever more hostile to You, may we seek refuge in Your Kingdom and not in the things of this world. Lord God, I ask that You continue to reveal and expose false prophets, teachers and ministries. Lord God, the world is watching and when they are not seeking to persecute Your people they are laughing. Lord God, in many ways the Gospel that is being promoted today is counter to what You teach in Your Word, especially in the Beatitudes. Lord God, imprint these Beatitudes in our minds, write them on our hearts so when we are in difficult situations we will know who You are and what we are to do. Thank You Lord for this reader. May they continue living in the ways that You have set before them. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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Blue Collar Theologian

My name is Mandy Sweigart-Quinn, I live in Lancaster, PA and I am a “Blue Collar Theologian.” I love Jesus! I am passionate about His Word (The Holy Bible)! I come alive when I can encourage others in their walk with Jesus (whether by writing or speaking). As a “Blue Collar Theologian” it is my aim to live/practice/work out my Christian hope with sincerity, authenticity and genuineness. As a “Blue Collar Theologian,” I strive to meet people right where they are (“Incarnational Theology”). I graduated in May 2019 from Capital Seminary and Graduate School with a Master's in Biblical Studies. I am a passionate, excited and enthusiastic person! I love flowers, sports and sunsets. Since January 2, 2018 I have had the privilege of being married to Nathan.

58 thoughts on “Persecution”

  1. Thank you for this meaningful post. Truly, Christians are being persecuted more and more these days, and our rights are being taken away in the nations that allow worship of the “true” and Almighty God. Biblical prophecy tells us that conditions will get worse. Christ has warned us in Matthew Chapter 24 what to expect. We are no longer in the “beginning of sorrows” which Christ spoke about. We are IN the sorrows. May all of us be strengthened by the Spirit of God to face the days ahead.

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  2. A wonderful post! You said, “Worldwide it is becoming ever more difficult to follow Christ. There is a price to pay.” I find this to be very true. I’ve let go of a lot of things in life to follow Christ, although looking back, I’ve gained much better things 🙂

    I’m also aware of the persecution of Christians happening online, and it’s quite sad to see. There is also very intense persecution going on in other parts of the world. We must hang in there! Thanks for your encouragement and sharing the Word 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for this excellent post of encouragement, Mandy! In its crusade on behalf of “tolerance and pluralism,” Western society is becoming increasingly intolerant of Biblical Christianity. The day is coming when the Bible will be branded as “hate literature.” But our faith transcends this world.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amen, Mandy! I have long thought the Beatitudes to be a description of the journey of a believer, from the moment we realize we are spiritually bankrupt (“poor in spirit”) to being saved, to becoming more and more Christ-like, with rejoicing in persecution being the highest level of maturity.

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  5. Hi Mandy, thank you for sharing this post on the Beatitudes. What with the changes that are currently taking place and quite possibly, coming on the horizon, it certainly is timely. As I read about what is happening in places like North Korea or China, and other places in this quickly changing world, it doesn’t take too much imagination to envision how the mindset of the general populace can switch from general accommodation to ridicule or rejection. When I read the word “peacemaking” I think of the word “reconciliation” because that is what the Gospel of Jesus Christ really is about, and our responsibility as ambassadors for Christ, is to communicate that reconciliation to the lost. How we do that is the tricky part. If ever there was a time when we need to really look at how Jesus asks us to interact with others, I think it is now. God’s blessings to you and yours as always. Love in Christ – Bruce

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    1. Hi, Bruce!!!! What an excellent comment! I was also reading some articles about Christians in North Korea and it is horrifying. I absolutely agree the time is truly now to look at how Jesus asks us to interact with others. Love and blessings to you and Peggy!!!

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  6. Thank you for this post, in fact thank you for the blessing that the entire series has brought to us readers. As I read this today I was made more aware of the advance of persecution in our world. It appears to be moving very slowly over the years like advancing sea ice. Looking back over the years it wasn’t that long ago that christians could write letters to local newspapers with a strong christian message. There is no chance that such a freedom exists nowadays…the ice has shifted.

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  7. I have been thinking about this idea more as of late since our country seems to be increasingly moving towards persecution of believers, but I keep coming back to something Jesus said-“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
    Thank you for your thoughts and encouragement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you would like to comment on Kent’s question, I would love to hear your thoughts! Enjoy your time at the library! I shoveled SO much ice and snow today so I am doing nothing! Nathan is thankful that he doesn’t have to come home and shovel so it’s worth it!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! I did as well and each answer to a scenario I came up with for me was God’s permissible will. The world is hostile to the people of faith and to unbelievers. For example the radical left turns on the left who aren’t left enough. I am thankful you are taking time to think about this. That means a lot!

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      1. Texas needs those prayers. Mandy, it’s been horrid for so many. At one point there were 4 million without power in zero degree temps. Many on their 4th day without. There have been dozens of deaths confirmed, and many more will be found after the thaw. I know people doing without water, gas, electricity, little food. At my house it’s been good. I have one pipe frozen from the kitchen sink, but that’s all of the calamity experienced. Grateful! Tomorrow we will see real above freezing temps and the melting will begin.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Love how you showed us and translated the “y’all”s that appear in the passage. Excellent New American Southern Bible translation =)
    You are right in your post about how worldwide its getting harder to follow Christ. This is true worldwide even here in the West. Was talking to a international rural pastor this week and his story of how one of their pastors have to walk five hours to minister to this church that had the village attack the original pastor moved me…five hours walk one way.
    Closer to home a classmate of mine in Seminary is now the first pastor arrested in Canada with the restriction of COVID. I understand they were trying to accommodate as much as possible but the state was getting more and more hypocritical in how they handle churches.
    What a time we live in

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Dean!!!!! I am encouraged to hear about you looking at the Beatitudes! If God stirs you to write on them I would love to hear your thoughts!!! Love and blessings to you and Andreia (if I miss autocorrects correction and it is Andrea please forgive me! I try to be mindful of this!!!!).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the response Mandy! I will let you know, right now I have some other writings to finish but this could well be one for the future!! It’s a great sermon to write about. You said her name spot on 😁 Andreia is how its spelt in Portugal, Andrea is how it’s spelt in England. Love and blessings to you and Nathan! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Amen!! I love your following thoughts on this, so much encouragement:

    ‘We do not need to seek out persecution, if we are living for Christ, being transformed more and more into His image, insults and hardships will come.’ ….’we are kingdom citizens who are to do your will and your way on this earth.’

    Great truth!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Our youth group went well! We were reading the last section of JC Ryle’s Thoughts for Young Men and I had the kids vote if they want in two weeks to discuss the last part of the book we didn’t talk about or they want us to move the next booklet we’re planning to read. The majority voted to read a new booklet. That touched my heart as I felt it could have been easy not having to read more in two weeks but they want to read more about God. Little things like that makes me joyful. How is your day?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That would make me joyful too!!! It was a good day, I didn’t have to shovel, praise the Lord!!!! For what my opinion is worth, there are many people concerned with the direction their denomination is headed (from baptist, to presbyterian). On Wednesdays Nathan and I attend Bible Study at the church we are going to. They are teaching MacArthur’s Fundamentals of the Faith. The other Wednesday I asked in response to the teacher saying you should never attend a church that has debt because Pastor isn’t free to preach. I asked the question should the church be a 501c3 entity? Jimmy, the man was so rude to me, saying we have a constitution and this isn’t even a question because you will get your tax write off. Nathan stood up for me and said, “no, what she’s saying is that when you are tax exempt the government has a say.” The discipleship pastor was in the room so he talked with Nathan. This is a small denomination called Bible Fellowship Church and I am wondering what direction they are going as well. The church needs to be prepared.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a well written article Mandy. I totally agree that righteousness may attract persecution. Many of us may have experienced it. Yet the Divinity inside, once it awakens, does offer protection and greater rewards.

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  11. Took a while to get back to you! Youth group went well! We have a new kid a few weeks back with no church backgound and part of our four part friendship series we look at Matthew 18 and Jesus’ lesson on forgiving 70 times 7. It was neat to explain to the new kid how does the Bible work! Also teaching on forgiveness is a great opportunity to preach about Jesus and the Gospel. I am not visiting family today, busy reading to teach Bekhof’s Systematic Theology tonight on the Trinity with some guys from Texas and Vegas. That will start in 20 minutes. Thanks for your prayers for the youth group

    Liked by 1 person

  12. We are studying the Beatitudes this moment in Bible study and just reviewed persecution yesterday. Yes, I face this more and more daily. Intolerance towards my beliefs which are God’s beliefs. It is best for me to stay off social media and spend time with God instead. 🙂

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