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“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
SECRET #14 is: The follower of Jesus rejoices and celebrates when persecuted for being a follower of Jesus alone. To rejoice in persecution is to develop the big picture on all troubles-especially the stresses that others bring upon you. Life is full of stress and distress. Many of life’s stresses are circumstantial.
NOTE the reason for persecution here. It’s that same word we saw earlier-righteousness. As you hunger and thirst for righteousness-being like Jesus (allowing Him to do His work through you)-you will make people uncomfortable and they will pick away at you. ALSO note the kinds of persecution mentioned here. It’s insults, falsely saying all kinds of evil against you because of the Jesus and Kingdom lifestyle you are embracing. And when you note who it is that’s doing the persecuting in the New Testament against the early followers of Jesus, you will quickly find that this kind of persecution comes from other hyper-religious people who are jealous and threatened.
When Jesus, the Righteous One, came to explain the love of God to mankind, his simple message was to present himself and the gospel of the Kingdom. It didn’t contain a system of do’s and don’ts that normal religious groups do, so this made the religious leaders of the day uncomfortable enough to persecute him terribly to the point of putting him to death-to silence this simple one. If you are simply walking with Jesus, walking with others and waiting on Jesus to lead out in your life, you may face the same kind of criticism and backlash. Your simple faith will make others very uncomfortable-especially those who believe they have it all together, bolstered by their many theological and religious props. However, for those who are discontent, hurting, burdened down by all of the religiosities in the world, you will be a welcome sight-a bright light of hope.
The pre-requisite necessary for you to rejoice in persecution is to refocus your heart. When you begin to experience a sense of inner satisfaction and some level of fulfillment, you will find the jealousy and envy of others waiting to cut you down to their size-or lower!
NOTE what is promised for those who rejoice in persecution. Jesus says, “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We saw that at the very beginning with Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The first snapshot and the last-poor in spirit and being persecuted for being like Jesus. It’s like all 8 beatitudes are wrapped up in a package-all describing what a citizen of the Kingdom looks like. What a picture it is!