Monday, January 19, 2015

100 Days on Jesus’ Sermon Mount (Day 9)

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what God approves of.
    The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
— Matthew 5:10 (GW)
Courage is saved for the time it is most needed – when we must stand for what we believe, that is when what we truly believe is stood for.
To buckle at the hurdle is something we have all experienced. We have all fallen. So, the person who actually suffers for doing what God approves of, that person is blessed in heaven – eternity belongs to them – they have a home in heaven to look forward to.
But, is this Beatitude any help to the persecuted in today’s terms?
Where there is the abiding of truth – to do what we say, for instance, or to back up our beliefs with actions – there is congruence between earth and heaven. God’s will is discharged here when outcomes on earth are as they are in heaven.
Such a focus is borne on the subject of persecution and suffering, Jesus speaks thrice about it (verses 10-12) in the present context.
So, the matter of persecution is so central to the gospel setting that the next two verses build on this first one, verse 10, and it’s as if Jesus is building to a crescendo of paradox – the worst we endure is the best for later in heaven.
There is no easy way of saying this: the more we suffer the sufferings of the Lord, the more we will share in his glory in the eternal tomorrow.
It’s very worldly to want to be happy. And it certainly shouldn’t be a blight on our spiritual maturity to want the comfortable life. But the fact for the spiritually mature stands; there will need to be a rescinding of any of those comforts if and as the Lord wills it.
If we are to suffer it should only be to suffer for what is right. Most if not all suffering is for that purpose, though it may seem so unjust.
To suffer well as we can is to do what is right given the circumstances.
1.     What has your suffering taught you that stands you in good stead for both this life and for eternity?
2.     Who in the world, including Jesus, has inspired you to respond well in a period of suffering, e.g. Nelson Mandela?
3.     While the time is right, right now, what is your commitment to future suffering? Will you suffer the best you can for doing what God approves of?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.

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