Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted | June 19, 2023
It’s hard to imagine what it would have been like to live under the rule of Domitian. To be persecuted, to suffer, to even lose your life because of your faith in Christ. Today, many Christians around the globe suffer persecution like this, and it’s often in these places where the church flourishes. In times of great suffering, the Kingdom of God grows.
As Pastor Aaron explained the cultural context of the book of Revelation, he asked, “If you are the Apostle John, how do you motivate persecuted people to hang in there? To stay in it and not give up? To overcome?”
You tell them, “I’ve been to the throne room of God, and Domitian isn’t on it.” And from there the Apostle John paints the picture of how our God conquers, how our God wins. But he does it not by way of the Lion, but by way of the slain Lamb. We overcome by laying down our lives.
How can we stay faithful to Christ as our culture gets darker, attacking and accusing Christians of being the enemy?
Matthew 5:10-12, 44-48 ESV
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Romans 12:14-21 ESV
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Lord, while we are yet to suffer persecution like those under the rule of Domitian, we are facing darker days as our country moves away from the Christian faith it was founded on. Give us the courage to stand for Your Truth and be Your light that shines in these darker places, to overcome evil with good.