Monday, April 14, 2008

Understanding Jesus, the Conclusion

* Don't stop reading here, I've been making up for lost time! Two new posts below...

If you missed some of my earlier thoughts on the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), you will find a link under the heading 'Labels' on my sidebar that will bring up all 5. Or, maybe you got to read them, but it's been so blasted long that you need to review. My bad. :P

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Seriously? I am supposed to consider it a blessing to be insulted? To be persecuted? It's hard to imagine, isn't it? Praying as Paul did, praising God during times of trial and attack - praising Him not in spite of our circumstances, but actually because of them...thanking Him for those circumstances. If it's in the Word, I believe it to be true, so somehow it really can be done. We really can give God praise and glory FOR those times we are persecuted. But how?!

I think that it starts with our perspective. First, I just want to consider the concept of persecution. I have always thought of persecution as other people being cruel to me because of my love for Jesus. I remember once being called a "Bible thumper" - that's pretty straightforward as far as persecution goes. Then there's the situation in schools and courts - no more prayer in public schools, no more giving an oath on the Bible (whatever book that's special to you will be sufficient) - again, pretty clear persecution of the Christian faith and of those of us who believe.

What about those times in our lives when we are getting beaten down by our circumstances? Losing our friends. Terminal illness. Divorce. In the past I've seen these as 'really bad things' that happen. These really bad things wield enough pain to cause many a strong believer to doubt, question, and even walk away from what they believe. Often, I believe that these really bad things are not simply 'bad luck,' but rather spiritual attack. Satan, the devil, the evil one - whatever you choose to call him, he's an insecure guy. He can't stand it when people are loving God and believing Him. He hates faith, and he will rally up a whole dominion of evil forces to help him wreck even one person's faith. He attacks us because of what we believe and Who we believe in - the essence of persecution. Here's where perspective comes in...

So when I feel insulted, attacked, beat down because of my faith...the first thing I do is take a deep breath and ask, "why is this happening to me?" (Don't we all ask this question?) The answer is often the same - this is happening to me because I love Jesus and the enemy of Christ hates that. And even if the enemy may not have initiated this attack against me, he most certainly will take advantage of it in order to ruin my faith. How do I have vicory of the enemy? How do I make sure he won't win and beat my faith out of me? There's only one way - praising God! "God's power is unleashed through the praises of His people!" (From Spirtual Warfare for Every Christian, Dean Sherman.) I praise God because I know He is faithful and will use even the worst circumstances for good in His kingdom. I praise God because I know He is good even if life isn't feeling so good. I praise God because I know He is more powerful than any insult or attack. I praise God, even when it feels like I should mourn and weep, becase I KNOW that taking this action will bring blessing. I know it, because Christ Himself promised it -

Rejoice and be glad, beacause great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

1 comment:

  1. So hard to remember that HE is more powerful than any attack on ourselves.

    Great post!


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