Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
The last of the Beatitudes is, to me, a little unnerving. You know the phrase: if you have faith in Jesus, you’re painting a target on your back. It’s true. At some point in the unknown future, you and I will both stand before Jesus and He will ask us if we ever truly believed in Him. There will be no hiding from answering His question. If you answer honestly that you believed, He will welcome you into His eternal kingdom. If your response is that you didn’t believe in this life, then your self-inflicted reward will be found elsewhere.
Let’s face it: in this life, it’s much easier to not believe. We’re free to not believe (at least in America), so why believe? Why subject yourself to all His rules, the restrictions on things you want to do? Why believe in this man who, like Mohammed, may or may not have actually lived? And, because some religions actually want to kill you if you believe in this Jesus, why take the chance?
You know why. At that judgment throne, you’ll definitely know the answer.
Right now, I’m reading a book by Eric Metaxes called “A Letter to the American Church.” Metaxes also wrote a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and he uses examples from Bonhoeffer’s life to warn Americans today about how the current church (at large) needs to stand up to forces that are actively working to destroy it. Forces from the communist left are aggressively targeting Americans’ right to worship and to enjoy the liberties our government was founded to protect. Communism has always done this; in fact, it’s what any dictator does. In a tyranny, there’s no room for both the tyrant and God. One has to go. It happened in Nazi Germany; it happened in the Soviet Union. It’s happening now in present-day Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, and China. And, it’s slowly happening here.
Will you stand up for Jesus? Long before you stand in front of Him in eternity, will you stand up to your fellow man and say, “I believe?” Jesus is the foundation of righteousness; we aren’t righteous without Him. But honestly confessing faith now, and in the time to come, may cost you your life.
The reward for believing that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, and God, and that He died and rose to give you free salvation is that you, who will be persecuted, will be given an honored place in the kingdom of heaven. God smiles on you. He reveres you. He loves you. Believing in Him now will almost certainly make this life difficult because there are people and forces who hate you for it. But, at the end of all things, it will make all the difference in your world. Unnerving or not, believe.
For more reading: 1 Peter 3:14, Matthew 5:11
Lord Jesus, I believe in You alone.