Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
When we walk as God’s children in this world, we walk with targets on our backs. While it is true that part of our walk in this world may surely result in the lost coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we cannot ignore the fact that we also should expect opposition because of our faith. The scriptures tell us that we are to live in the world without being of the world [1 John 2:15-17], meaning that we are aliens in this place [Phil. 3:20]. We are outsiders trying to promote everything that goes against the spirit of the age. We cannot expect a warm welcome when our cause is the righteousness of God.
God’s calling us to righteousness comes with it the expectation that we will suffer because the world hates him [John 15:18]. As we carry his countenance and contend for his righteousness, we will lose our appeal before those who have made idols of every temporary and powerless thing with which they attempt to replace God. This brings persecution not because of us but because of him. When the enemies rise to quench our efforts to fulfill the work God gives us, it is against God that they rise. In this way, we fight his battles as He fights ours. We bear the persecution meant for him. And in his grace and love, He responds by giving us the keys to the kingdom.
This verse is clear that the persecution spoken of is not persecution because of us. This persecution comes about because we operate in and seek righteousness in an unrighteous world. As we live as people after God’s own heart, the world begins to see him in us and react to that vision. Those who hate him will hate us, and we will bear the persecution they mean for him. This is a glorious place to be because it carries the blessing of an inheritance in God’s kingdom. Father, gives us the courage and strength to endure the persecution that your word tells us we can expect, that we would rely on You to sustain us through these times until we arrive at the inheritance You have promised us.