PC-USA 1997-06-06 - Persecution

The Sermon on the Mount Series, Part 7

Mat 5:10 (NIV) Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Sometimes I think we have the wrong idea when we are mistreated as Christians. First, we consider it something unusual, when in fact, Peter seemed to assume it would happen.

1 Pet 4:12-13 (NIV) Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Also sometimes we think that if we have troubles, it means we are doing something wrong. That can be very bad theology. In fact, when we are suffering it could very well be because we are doing something right. And we certainly are in good company. Our Lord was tortured. The Apostle Paul was shipwrecked, beaten and more. All the disciples except one were martyred. Of course sometimes we do bring suffering on ourselves, but the point is that we should expect some difficulties in living out our faith. In fact, if everything always goes smoothly for us in our Christian walk, I believe we need to carefully examine our lives.

And when we do suffer for good, we have recompense. We have the peace of doing the right thing.

1 Tim 3:9 (NIV) They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.

Also, God always brings good out of suffering. Rom 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

He uses our hardships to teach us.

Heb 12:7 (NIV) Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

And He will reward us eternally our faithfulness to Him.

Heb 11:24-26 (NIV) By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

We are to be grateful for the honor of suffering for Christ. This seems antithetical to we Americans -- myself included sometimes! -- who will do most anything to avoid suffering.

1 Pet 4:16 (NIV) However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

How about joining me in examining your heart about your attitude about suffering for our faith? And what we call "suffering" pales, anyway, compared to for example, the 10,000,000 -- yes that's 10 million Christians who died during World War II, at the hands of the Communists. Most everyone knows the horror of the Jewish Holocaust, but lesser known to many, is the fact that these Christians were martyred for their faith, also. Entire cities were starved to death.

Dear Father, please help us to look at suffering for our faith, through Jesus' eyes, and if and when it comes our way, please help us to deal with it faithfully in such a way as to bring glory to You. In Jesus' name, amen.