Most of us who claim to be Christian in the United States do not know what it is to be truly persecuted for believing in God or following Jesus. We may feel as if we’ve been treated unfairly or that others have attempted to silence us in some instances but never have our lives been in danger, never have we been arrested, imprisoned, or tortured because of what we believe.
So is it possible to claim this blessing of commitment? Absolutely! Jesus doesn’t give us this Kingdom descriptions so that we can seek persecution but so that we have a deeper understanding of the commitment to God that being Kingdom People is all about. Our devotion to Jesus is to be so complete that we are willing to miss out on or lose whatever this world says is the answer to success or fame or comfort. Whatever the pressure around us to live the world’s way, we stay true to The Way and journey with Jesus deeper into God’s Kingdom each and every day. We don’t have to be persecuted to do this.
Following Jesus isn’t easy. Jesus never sugar coated this. He goes on in the description of Kingdom People to say that when people put us down or cast us aside because we live like Kingdom People, that we should be glad. The truth of God’s love makes them uncomfortable and to maintain their comfort, they attempt to silence the truth we live.
Being ridiculed for living as Jesus teaches puts us in good company. It puts us in his company. The Truth we live is grounded in God’s love for all. When the world says we have to take a side, pick a party, choose our affiliation, we are to choose God’s Kingdom. And if the human organized and created groups we are a part of promote any other way than loving God and our neighbor, we remain true to our commitment to Jesus, even if these people don’t like us any more.
You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.Matthew 5:10-12, The Message
And like all good teachings and stories, this kingdom descriptor should make us look at ourselves and ask “when have I don’t this very thing? When have I been uncomfortable with the Truth of God’s love and ridiculed others for living and speaking this truth? When have I claimed a commitment to God only to label and belittle others instead of loving them? When have I chosen an earthly affiliation over my commitment to God?”
Together with God’s help we can journey deeper into God’s Kingdom every day as we follow Jesus in the Way of Love. We are blessed with good company.