By Allen White
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Most of us are very comfortable living in the norm. Granted, we would all consider ourselves to be slightly better than the average Joe, but we prefer to not be extremely ahead or extremely behind. Slightly ahead of the middle is where we like to live.
No one wants to be considered extreme.
But, then we pick up a book like Crazy Love by Francis Chan, and we wonder, “Am I even a Christian at all?” Then, we put that book down and go back to reading something that feels a little more average. Now, we feel much better…a little Chicken Soup for our Souls. We’ll just keep a safe distance from the Tabasco for our souls.
But, here’s where we make the mistake. Jesus said we are blessed when we are persecuted because of righteousness, not self-righteousness. I believe that the self-righteous should be persecuted, but they aren’t blessed. That system needs to break down. Self-righteousness stands in the way of God’s grace, His blessing, and His presence in our lives.
Now, in this age of tolerance, Christians are to be tolerated for their faith as long as they keep it to themselves. Once your deal begins to interfere with my deal, the gloves come off. Don’t go trying to help people. Get back in the middle. It’s safer. It’s cozy in here. Don’t get all “Francis Chan” on us. That line could make us laugh, but what if the sentence was “Don’t get all ‘Jesus Christ’ on us”? Ouch. This is why the middle is safer.
No one wants to be persecuted. We don’t. In America, there’s not much persecution going on anyway. I know that there have been lawsuits over displaying the Ten Commandments. But, what if instead of displaying the tablets on our lawns, we displayed them in our lives? Organized prayer has been removed from schools. I prayed in school all of the time. And, it wasn’t lead by a non-Christian faculty member. But, these are merely token things.
Is anyone in prison because of their faith like Paul was? Not that I know of. I’m not saying that I want to go to prison like Paul. If I did, I would not be like Joseph, that’s for sure.
The reward for persecution because of righteousness is the kingdom of heaven. The reward for living in the middle of the pack is mediocrity.
Now, please don’t take this as a license to be a jerk. You’re on your own with the persecution that comes from that. But, where do you need to take a stand? When do you need to redirect a conversation, even among God’s people?
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