be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
While the “Beatitudes” found in Matthew 5:3-12 are beautiful poetry and often quoted, their true value is found in their
description of what it means to live a commendable life in this world that God has given each of his children. Early Christians lived their daily lives in fear and under the threat of persecution for their belief in Christ. Many were beaten, stoned, burned, and imprisoned. Early followers of Christ were reviled, attacked, slandered, and falsely accused. They were socially ostracized, kicked out of their homes and communities. It took incredible courage to be a Christian in those early days. Have things changed so much today?
While we don’t actually fear being burned at the stake or stoned, or imprisoned for obeying the commandment to love one another, we are being persecuted in our own congregations. The persecution is much more subtle, but it is still very much alive.
All you need to do to stir people up is to love. If you dare to love-- hatred will come out of the darkest cracks of the walls and try to smash you. You dare to care-- and someone will rise up to question your intention. You dare to tell the truth— falsehood
will slither out from under a rock and hiss its lies against you. ou dare to do good-- evil will rise up and try to destroy you.
Why is this happening in our churches today? Because people can’t stand it when someone turns a hand to help others. These acts of goodness bring into questions their own selfishness, and they will try to stamp our goodness in order to justify their own apathetic uncaring ways.
Rev. James C. Moore tells a story of a young couple who tried to do something Christian. Their son played on the high school football team. He didn’t get to play often, but his parents were always there, supporting their son and the team; wearing the schools colors, cheering for the team. One Friday night after the game, as they started home with their son, they passed a boy walking down the side of the road. He was the star of the team, a running back. He was just a tenth-grader, barely sixteen, but a
born athlete. He has scored three touchdowns that night.
They stopped and offered him a ride. He got in the car and they drove to his home, but the house was dark. They were concerned, “Are your parents home, would you like us to wait with you till they get here?” The story unfolds, his parents had left several days ago, he didn’t know where they were, or when they’d be back. Or if they were coming back He was the star of the team and his parents had never seen him play. They gave no love, encouragement or support.
In cooperation with the school this couple formed a support group to help this young man and many other young people. They tutored the kids, had Bible study and sharing , pizza parties after the football games. But there were some heavy faces hanging over coffee in the local café: whisper, whisper, whisper, the word got around town. “No good can come of this,” “ you know when you get kids together bad things happen,” “nobody’s that good—to give all that time and open their home like that,” “if you ask me,
there’s something bad going on over there.” The gossip became so bad that the man lost his job and they had to move out of town and start their lives over.
Persecution is happening here in our church. We are trying to do something Christian and it is prickling the consciences of others. There are whispers and whispers. But the good news is, ultimately, God and righteousness will win, and God will share the victory with us. WE will stand tall for righteousness, believe in righteousness, and dedicate our lives to goodness! We will stand in for Jesus Christ here in Logan. We will continue to reach out to the unloved, the homeless, the lost and all of God’s children.
When we look at others in this world with the light of this earth, they may look grotesque, and we may think, “Well, what difference does it make how I treat them?” But when we look at people in the light of God’s love, they look like angels, and we begin to see them as persons for whom Christ died. Jesus knew that his followers would be persecuted, so he didn’t mince words. He laid it out plainly.“ Oh, by the way,” he said, “if you do these things—if you live the Beatitudes out there in the day-to-day world—you may well be persecuted. People will turn against you. They will give you a hard time, but don’t be afraid, because I AM with you.”
By Jennifer Beckette