Do you get a little disoriented from all of Jesus’ “upside-down” statements? Are you ready for another? Here is a paradox that is hard to accept at first: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:10-12).
Satan hates Christ, and his followers hate Christians. Until Christ returns, spiritual warfare is our lot. But here’s the great news: Satan has already been defeated, and all his assaults on the church will fail.
Here’s more: God works His saving agenda both through our comfort and our pain, both with our outward successes and our hardships. One African church leader recently attributed the rapid growth of his church body to the amount of suffering they had endured.
My heart goes out to Christians who suffered persecution in Roman times, dying in the Coliseum, burned at the stake, and crucified like Christ. My heart goes out to Christians today who are driven into exile, beaten, imprisoned for their faith, and killed.
Jesus himself assures us that these are not signs that we are losing. Just the reverse—we are blessed for everything we suffer for Jesus, and great is the reward waiting for us.
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