26th MARCH

Freedom for the persecuted

Matthew 5: 10

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

I wonder what you really think when you read this the last of the Beatitudes?  Have you known persecution because of your faith?  Do you see it as a real threat to the church where we are?  There might be challenges but can we really call them persecution?  If we lived in another country we’d see something quite different and numerous charities highlight the many dangers face by christians across the world who need our support.

So, what then has this got to do with us?   The answer is in the detail and the detail is found in the world “righteousness”.  This particular Beatitude is about being given a hard time because of seeking to do the right thing or say the right thing.  It is about speaking out when we see something that we believe is wrong.  It is not the kind of righteousness that looks down on other people.  It encourages us to seek to do the right th by God and by God’s people. 

If we speak up for, or just befriend, someone who is having a hard time because of the actions of others then we are in danger of opening ourselves up to the same.  The question is, do we sit back and say nothing and do nothing when we see victims of gossip or discrimination suffer?  Or, do we say something?  Do we do something?  

Whether we are an employee or an employer, a  shareholder or chief executive, working or retired as a christian we have a responsibility to uphold the values of the kingdom, to attempt to live out these values and seek to protect the most vulnerable in society.  We need courage to take a stand and stand with those who have been wronged and distance ourselves from the actions of those who do seek to make life hard for others.

The poor, the prisoners, the blind, the oppressed, the most vulnerable in society often have no voice because they have been silenced by their circumstances or those who who seek to oppress them.  Our words and our actions can set them free and know that they are not alone.

  • Have you ever spoken out when you have seen something wrong?  Have you ever had a hard time for doing it?  Is there anything that you should be addressing now?

Lord my God, I take refuge in you;

    save and deliver me from all who pursue me. . . 

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;

    I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.

(Psalm 7: 1, 17)