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Happiness is to suffer for Jesus (8th in Series)

Happy are those who are persecuted because of righteousness. Matthew 5:10

If you are a Christian what effect does this have on what happens to you?  What kind of reaction can you expect from the world?

We have been talking about the character traits of one who is a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, a disciple of Jesus, a Christian.  It is a person who is aware of her need, cares for others, doesn’t have to be in control, desires God and right, is merciful and forgiving, single-minded in devotion to God, and is engaged in the job of bringing people to God and each other.

What a wonderful person!

As Billy Graham says we would expect to hear everyone sing, “For he’s a jolly good fellow.”

But in the last beatitude, the only one on which He elaborates, Jesus throws cold water on that notion—Happiness is to suffer for Jesus.

Most Christians have not squarely faced this statement.  There are those who clearly reject it.  They contend it is only of historical interest, or special circumstances or for our own sins.  However, persecution for the sake of Christ is a reality in 2010.  Does that mean it applies only to certain groups who are in circumstances where it is a reality.  Or does it have something to do with the nature of discipleship and its relation to society in any time and place.  I confess that I do not fully know what to do with it.

One thing is sure.  The Bible is very much concerned with persecution, opposition, suffering for those who follow Jesus.  Here are a few examples:

  • All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. II Timothy 3:12
  • In the world you will have tribulation. John 16:33
  • In Matthew 10 Jesus promises not peace but division.

Friction with the world is the normal expectancy for Jesus’ band.  Christians are a minority.  Jesus never left any doubt as to the consequences of following Him.  They would be strangers, pilgrims, peculiar people, misfits, odd, abnormal, wet-blankets and disloyal.  If you follow Jesus you’re in for trouble.  Someone once said, “Jesus promised His disciples three things—that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble.”

If you would walk the road with Jesus be prepared to walk a lonely road.  Trouble, persecution is not a sign of unfaithfulness.  In fact the ultimate judgment of the world on a person who perfectly reflected the Beatitudes was a cross—Jesus.

The return however is happiness.  Happiness Is—not about the things which make you happy, but kind of person who will be happy under any circumstances.  It is the person reborn by God’s grace through trust in Jesus.  To that person happiness is a miraculous gift from God.  Read all 8.

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