Benefits of persecution – Part 1
In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus Christ paints the picture of the blessed man. From one milestone to another, He outlines the path of the blessed one. In the beatitudes, blessed means happy, fortunate, favoured, etc. He makes it plain that the blessedness being talked about is reserved for the poor in spirit, people who mourn, the meek, people who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart and the peacemakers.
Ordinarily, these character traits are supposed to be endearing qualities for a heaven-bound believer. But ironically, these gracious virtues are rarely appreciated by the society. Rather than being appreciated, those who possess them are hated and subjected to persecution. But the heaven-bound believer is not to fear or cringe in the face of persecution, but to rejoice for being counted worthy of being in the company of the saints that had suffered similar fate.
When He talks about peacemakers, the Lord does not mean organisations that make or settle personal or national conflicts as a profession. Rather, He means citizens of the Kingdom that had received comfort after mourning, who have had their broken fellowship and relationship with God mended. He means those who have become meek and gentle; those whose thirst after righteousness had been satisfied and whose chief pursuit is still purity of life.
Now as true children of God, they have become so merciful and peaceful that even persecution, conflict and pressure cannot change their spiritual state of love, peace of mind or compassion for others. Appreciation or persecution does not change their peace-loving and peace-making nature. All said and done, reliance on God’s grace and determination, willingness to meditate on God’s Word remain the only way by which a believer or seeker can profit from the Word in times of challenges, trials and persecution.
The true child of God is a peacemaker. He not only loves peace, wants peace, promotes peace, works for peace, prays for peace, but he also does everything to maintain peace among people; he abhors completely all strives, discords and contentions. He hates war because it engenders killings and if there is anything he can do, it is to make peace. He labours with all might to prevent the fire of contention from being kindled and, where the fire is already kindled, he endeavours to calm the stormy spirits of men and, to quieten the turbulent passion, to soften the minds of the contending parties and reconcile them with each other. That is the ministry of peacemaking.
To be a peacemaker demands that we “recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” It demands that we make up our minds to be the source of peace in the community. Make it a principle to allow the Prince of peace to control everything you do or say to make for peace like Abraham, who took the initiative to make peace with Lot rather than promote conflict. He had a willingness to be cheated in the situation. If everyone fights for his right, there will never be peace. Even when you are not personally involved in a conflict, you can also make peace between the warring parties like Jonathan did between Saul and David.
Further Reading (King James Version): Matthew 5:9-12; 2 Corinthians 12:9,10; 1 Timothy 4:15,16; Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:17-21; 14:19; Genesis 13:8-12; 1 Samuel 19:1,4-7; Judges 8:1-3; Proverbs 15:1; Philemon 10-20; Matthew 5:10,11; Galatians 4:29; 2 Timothy 3:12,13; John 15:18-21; 17:14; 1 Peter 3:14-17; Psalm 7:10-17; 1 Peter 1:6,7; 4:12-16; Matthew 10:22-31; Philippians 1:27-30; Matthew 5:10-12; 2 Corinthians 4:14-18; Exodus 1:12; Genesis 50:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:3,4; 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:10; Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 12:9,10.
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