The Persecuted Church: Matthew 5:10
““10) Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭5:10‬
This verse is talking about proven character that is solid and stable no matter what is thrown against it. Are your convictions real or merely convenient? Do you love those who love you and line up with your theology, or do you genuinely love all people, even those who differ from you?
Persecution is the perfect test of character because it usually comes with a “get out of jail free card!” If you bend the rules, look the other way or concede, your ordeal will usually come to a quick halt.
Hebrews 12:4 says; “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;”. If you are not real, the sight of your own blood being shed or the pain of being beaten will most likely modify your stance very quickly. For most, it only takes open ridicule and they quickly abandon their faith. The flesh is a coward.
If you are merely legalistic as a show of religion, you are vulnerable to be pulled into all kinds of secret sins such as bitterness, pornography, fantasy romance novels even substance abuse. Many Christian leaders have walked away from marriage and family for a more pleasurable lifestyle on the side of morality. This is simply another form of testing your true character.
True righteousness is a condition of the heart that defines you. It is tied to holiness and godliness. It deepens, grows and matures over time. It is both deepened through trials and hardship and validated through the same. When you squeeze true righteousness, holiness oozes out to the dismay and shame of the persecutors.
That’s what happened to Jesus as the crucifixion progressed. The hate and venom that nailed Him to the cross became hushed admiration through the process. The confession of the centurion and the guards by the end of the crucifixion is recorded in Matthew 27:54; “… Truly this was the Son of God.”
Many stories of martyred Christians through the centuries had the same impact on the mobs. They were deeply influenced for Jesus by the demeanor of the persecuted. The same happens today. Many come to Jesus through the silent voice of the Martyrs.
Acts 1:8 directly ties this to the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised to His followers. The root Greek word for “witnesses” in this verse is the same root Greek word for “martyrs”. The Holy Spirit supernaturally empowers believers to shine and witness for Jesus in the face of persecution.
The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who have suffered for Jesus. They live and walk in the reality and power of the Holy Spirit in ways the Western Church cannot comprehend.
The Western Church specializes in theology. The persecuted church walks in supernatural kingdom reality reminiscent of the Christians in the book of Acts. The more time I spend with pastors and Christians leaders in 3rd world countries and with the persecuted church, the more shallow, exposed and pretentious I feel. I yearn for the kingdom unction that defines them.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global