|Volume 21 Number 12 December 2019||
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Matthew 5:10). One characteristic of a citizen of the kingdom of God is that one must be ready and willing to endure persecutions (2 Timothy 3:12). This follows closely to the attitude of the peacemaker. In order to keep peace, one must be ready and willing to endure persecutions. The work of a peacemaker is not a light and easy one; it often carries with it persecutions of the world, even from those who should be restored to God.
The blessing is received by those who are “persecuted for righteousness sake” and not by those who are persecuted for their opinions or their evil doings. Jesus was bitterly hated and reviled because He was seeking to please God (Mark 3:6; Luke 6:7, 11).
Persecutions can manifest themselves in different ways: by misrepresenting a person, by slandering a person’s character, by trying to make a person’s motives look bad or by taking a person’s property. Persecutions are usually the result of hatred of God (John 15:20-23), ignorance of God (John 16:1-3), hatred for Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:14-15), for preaching the cross of Jesus (Galatians 5:11; 6:12) or for one’s godly living (2 Timothy 3:12). Yet, what should be the Christian’s attitude when persecutions come? A Christian should pray (Matthew 5:44), be patient (1 Corinthians 4:12), glorify God (1 Peter 4:16) and flee from it (Matthew 10:23).
“For theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). We are to rejoice and be very happy that we are counted worthy to suffer for the kingdom of Heaven (Acts 5:41). Jesus knew that those who would enter His kingdom and prove faithful would be persecuted. Therefore, He prepared us for this by telling us of the prophets, and then, He promises us that “we shall reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:12).
[Editor’s Note: Christians win even when it appears by the world’s standards and from consideration of material prosperity that they lose. What the children of God have to gain more than compensates for any and all earthly losses. “So Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life’” (Matthew 19:28-29). “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
A Second Century
Description of Christians
Ernest S. Underwood
They walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them. They love one another. They rescue the orphan from violence. They do not refuse to help widows. He who has, gives ungrudgingly to him who lacks. If they see a stranger, they take him home and entertain him as a brother. When one of their poor passes from the world, any one of them who sees it provides for his burial according to his ability. And if they hear about one of their number being in prison or being oppressed for the name of the Messiah, all of them provide for his needs. Thus, they labor to become righteous as those who expect to see their Messiah, and to receive from him the glorious fulfillment of the promise made to them. Truly this is a New People, and there is something divine in them. (Written by Emperor Hadrian 117-138 A.D., just a few years after the death of the Apostle John.)
It would be good to remember that at this time there was no “Holy Roman Catholic Church.” There was no pope, no moon god, no Islam, no Mormons, no Jehovah’s Witnesses and, not even one single denomination. Hadrian did not describe any of these simply because they didn’t exist, and they would not exist for several hundred years. He was describing Christians and only Christians.