Bible with Cross ShadowBefore we move on from the Beatitudes, there is something more the Lord would have us recognize about the blessings of the persecuted. It is of particular importance to the church in America. Though it is not a saying of Jesus that we must do; it is something we would be wise to consider in this regard.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12

A friend of mine was one of the first to enter Communist China when the bamboo curtain was opened for business with the West. He went in looking for the remains of the church that had been targeted for destruction by that evil government for many years. When he found them, he praised their endurance against the persecution. Their response surprised him.

The leaders explained that they too first thought that the government’s attacks were persecution. In their crying out to God, they learned from Him that their suffering was a result of His judgment. He had found them lacking for His intended purpose and plan. Most proved His judgment right, by denying their faith and betraying their brothers. What remained has become God’s instrument of the most powerful evangelistic movement the world has ever seen. Even now they are going as martyrs, back to Jerusalem.

So what does this have to do with the American church? What are we to do with this?

I suggest to you that the American church should be more concerned about God’s judgment than about the persecution that may come at the hands of the world. The blessings and heavenly rewards will come only to those that are persecuted for righteousness sake; to those that are living for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Dare we ask ourselves, “Am I living a life worthy of persecution, or a life worthy of judgment?”

Just to be clear, I am not talking about God’s judgment of eternal damnation – though some will be surprised (Matthew 7:21-23). The judgment that came to the church in China, and is hanging over the church in America, is the judgment of God to purify; to shake loose so that what remains cannot be shaken; by our God, the consuming fire (Hebrews 12:27-29).

If there is something we must do in response to these sayings of Jesus Christ regarding persecution (and I believe there is), it is to judge ourselves (1Corinthians 11:31). Need help? Here is a good place to start:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9

And may we pray for the Life that lives worthy of persecution.

Humbly yours and forever His,