Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness sake; for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
“Persecuted for righteousness sake,” what does that mean?
I had thought that this was persecution that resulted from being righteous. But is that what it says?
The way it is written it could mean because I am righteous, but it could also mean, in order to help me become righteous. There is some reason to think that this may be accurate if you look at Acts 14:22
Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
When Paul exhorted the disciples as he was passing through the different cities he did not tell them, “everything is taken care of just be happy Christians”. No, he exhorted them to continue in faith and expect to have difficulty. This is the way into the kingdom of God.
It is absolutely true and correct that Jesus died to pay the debt of sin, to reconcile us to God, to redeem us. But we are still exhorted to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
What does that mean?
I suspect it means more than, ‘pick up your ‘get out of Hell free’ card on your way out of the baptistry.’
At the end of the sermon on the mount, Jesus says,
Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock.
DOING the things Jesus tells me to do is not always pleasant, especially at first. Often when I am instructed to do a thing that is contrary to my will, it seems that I am being persecuted. In the case of the commands of Jesus, very much of what he tells me to do is contrary to my will, although it is the very best thing for me to do, and leads to the abundant life that he promised.
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father does not chasten? But if you are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then you are bastards and not sons. (Hebrews 12:7)