Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5 : 10-12
In times of yore, every Protestant was expected to have certain standard texts on their bookshelf. Amongst them were, The King James Bible and Foxes Book of Martyrs. The latter is a compilation of stories that tell the tale of some of the most famous martyrs in history. It is available digitally today as well as in paperback.
First published during the Reformation the book reminded the protestant church how much it had been persecuted by the Catholic Church. For some it even lent justification to the laws that persecuted Roman Catholics and kept them from high office. See what they did to us? We are only protecting ourselves! Sadly some then used that as justification for persecuting Roman Catholics. In truth, every part of Christianity has at some point persecuted another part. Our history makes sad reading.
What we often miss with this beatitude is how it’s aimed at those who are persecuted because of righteousness. Power, greed, jealousy, wealth, retribution, vengeance, etc, etc do not count. Someone having a go at us, even if not legitimate, does not count; this is about righteousness.
To make matters even more complicated, this is righteousness as Jesus would define it since he is the one who said this! What do you think Jesus actually means when he talks of righteousness? How different is that to being ‘in the right’?
Prayer: There are times Jesus when I really feel got at. Times when people do things I just wish they would not do. You know all this. You know I don’t deserve any of this, most of the time. You also know when I think like this I am very ‘me’ focused and you have asked us not to be like that. Will you help me today to stop being so me focused? Rather will you help me to see things as others see them and in doing that to show them your love.
Action: Google Jesus and Righteousness and see if you can deepen your understanding