By Elaine Baldwin| @elainehbaldwin
Joyfully face persecution. Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Joy and persecution don’t seem to go together, but in Jesus they do. If we are in Jesus we should accept persecution with joy.
I know this in my head. I read these admonitions in God’s Word and know I need to be ready and willing to first suffer persecution and second to do that with joy. Can I say with certainty that when (not if) that time comes, I will do so? I want to shout, “Yes!” But, I don’t think I can.
I am a spiritual wimp compared to the Witnesses in Scripture and those in our modern world who daily face life and death persecution. I whine when I have to sit in a pew for more than 45 minutes or someone swears in my presence. What would I do if someone screamed in my face for hours daring me to deny Christ or else?
How can I expect to have the depth of faith and courage needed for the future of Kingdom Living when I sit passively in the stands today? The reality is I cannot. And yet I continue on my same lifeless road and somehow think I will magically be ready to joyfully face persecution when it comes.
It’s as ridiculous as thinking I can by ready to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games by just sitting in my lounge chair watching sports on TV. If I had such a goal I would have to get off the chair and start training like…now! I would need a rigid schedule of instruction, coaching, practice, training and more practice and more training.
Then I would need to compete in small, very small, competitions to learn how to survive and thrive under competitive circumstances. And then maybe, just maybe, I might be ready for state, regional and, if I’m really committed, national competitions. All the while, I would need to keep up the practice and training and lessons. Then there is the world stage. Whew! I’m tired just sitting here thinking about it.
And that’s my point. I just sit and think about what I would do if I was ever really persecuted for my faith in Christ. But, I don’t get out there and practice my faith, train in my faith, learn in my faith or work on the front lines in my faith. So, of course, I am a spiritual wimp.
Face persecution with joy. One of these days I will be put to the test on this and so will you. The question is will we be ready?