Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness sake

The Beatitudes are full of surprises. We mentioned before that Jesus turns our whole world view upside down in the first four beatitudes where Jesus directly links our blessedness with poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness, and hunger. As we progress in “going down” in humility we are actually “going up” “mount beatitude” to the summit of mercy (see last post). Spirituality is all counter-intuitive. Once on the summit, we make our way down the other side a changed person with pure heart, and becoming a peacemaker. One now would expect something positive to follow. Instead, we get another surprise: the very opposite of peace─persecution!

I think that many people believe that they are misunderstood and persecuted in this world. The assumption is that the world is out to get them. The persecution that Jesus is talking about has nothing to do with the troubles we bring upon ourselves because of our own lack of virtue and mismanagement of our lives. Rather, Jesus speaks of a persecution that comes as a direct result of a pure heart, and playing the role of peacemaker. True righteousness will always be rewarded in this world with persecution because the world is warped by sin. The world is always striving for peace, but a peace on its own terms, not God’s. God’s peace will always draw the world’s persecution. What a strange surprise!

We not only link persecution to the beatitudes immediately before it, but also beatitude # 2 across from it, “blessed are they that mourn” (again, see previous post). Because of the senseless persecution that comes upon those who are righteous, there cannot help but be mourning for the way things are in this world. However, in all of the confusion and sadness, the Spirit of Jesus brings a blessedness that is rooted far deeper in our souls than all the pain the world can serve us.

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