Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Persecuted

Matthew 5:10-12 reads, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."

"Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

3 Nephi 12:10-12 reads, "And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

"And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."

"For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets before you."

The words and order are a bit different in these verses (between Matthew and 3 Nephi), but the ideas and concepts are the same.

Definitions ...

persecute: afflict, torture, torment; worry, badger, vex, bother, pester
revile: to assail with contemptuous or approbrious language; address or speak abusively

Observations ...

I particularly liked the sentiment of this Christian blogger, who said, "Believers who allow the corruption of the world to filter into their lives eventually become a weak testimony of Jesus Christ. Their values and behaviors run too closely alongside those whose lives are given over to all manner of selfishness and moral perversity. Christians who do not hold to their faith typically are not persecuted, for there is no reason to be. They are not making a loud enough stand against the systems of the world to merit being silenced."

"Unfortunately, when Christians lead this kind of life, they may not be experiencing adversity for the sake of the Gospel, but neither are they experiencing the blessing of living a life of genuine righteousness. Satan has no need to harass those who have strayed from the Word of God; they have already been rendered ineffective as witnesses for Christ, and therefore are no longer a spiritual threat to him."

With that said, I think it is logical to use persecution as a yard-stick to measure your own life - to see if it is righteous or not.

Harold B. Lee once noted that the evidence of a the true church is found in persecution.  He cited Matthew 5:10-12 as well as Luke 6:26, which reads, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets"  (link to his talk).

And lastly, this quote comes from a John Piper sermon from 1986:
"So we can see why a life devoted to righteousness or godliness will be persecuted or reviled or spoken against.
If you cherish chastity, your life will be an attack on people's love for free sex.
If you embrace temperance, your life will be a statement against the love of alcohol.
If you pursue self-control, your life will indict excess eating.
If you live simply and happily, you will show the folly of luxury.
If you walk humbly with your God, you will expose the evil of pride.
If you are punctual and thorough in your dealings, you will lay open the inferiority of laziness and negligence.
If you speak with compassion, you will throw callousness into sharp relief.
If you are earnest, you will make the flippant look flippant instead of clever.
And if you are spiritually minded, you will expose the worldly-mindedness of those around you."
(link to full sermon).

The point of the above is to show that by living a righteous life, you attack (stand in direct opposition to) the worldly pursuits of indulgence, luxury and pride.