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Jun 19

Persecuted

Posted on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

1375943_fireworks_9Yesterday my friend LeAndra posted on Facebook, “I have a love / hate relationship with this time of year…because of all the fireworks. I don’t know of I should hit the floor or look out the window at all the pretty colors…it all sounds like gun shots.”

She’s heard gun shots.
She’s heard fireworks.

Will the sound be followed by the beauty of celebration or the horror of violence?

The threat can be real; “hit the floor“.

Hit The Floor

LeAndra’s insightful comment reminded me of growing up bullied.

Every laugh I heard felt directed at me.
Every sound of running seemed toward me.
Every obscene comment seemed authored for me.

I was so very, very scared and angry.

Life can be scary.
Fear can be debilitating.
Discouragement breeds discouragement.

Discouragement

So, when I read that Jesus told his discouraged listeners, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” I have to fit off a cynical smirk. 1

Blessed? Right!

I have been bullied for my faith, but never persecuted. I see the two on a continuum of abuse, but usually not next to one another. In my quest to fight off fear and discouragement I look for heroes who overcome their adversity to encourage me to continue to fight through mine. Books like Jesus Freaks and organizations like The Voice of the Martyrs lead me to heroes like Damare.

“Damare, a young slave boy, had his knees and feet nailed to a board and was left to die – just for attending a church service. Miraculously he survived and told The Voice of the Martyrs that he forgave his cruel tormenter, because Jesus was nailed and forgave him.”

Dallas Willard admiringly commended Damare and others like him, “who are attacked because of their stand for what is right…(because they) can be possessed by the kingdom of the heavens, and when they are, that is enough to allow them to enjoy a blessed life. They experience an unshakable security in which they cannot be harmed.”

Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when he said, “Those who are treated badly for doing good are happy, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.” 3

“Jesus says, jump for joy when this happens, from the knowledge that even now you have a great and imperishable reward in God’s world, in the heavens. Your reputation stands high before God the Father and his eternal family, whose companionship and love and resources are now and forever your inheritance.”

Against the odds, I’m gonna keep believing, keep trusting, keep holding onto the notion that an ancient Galilean guy knew what he was talking about even when bad things happen to faithful people.

1 – Matthew 5:10, NIV
2 – Dallas Willard’s book Divine Conspiracy influenced me throughout this series
3 – Matthew 5:10, NCV

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