I have so much going on in my head this week, so buckle in for the ride. First, we talked about Matthew 5:10-12 on Sunday.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
This is a passage people like to skip because persecution isn’t something we want. We like the kingdom of heaven part, but not the persecution part. I have some thoughts. The first is that it doesn’t say here that if you aren’t persecuted you aren’t blessed; it says that if you are persecuted there is an extra blessing. I don’t read this to say I have to go and find persecution in order to be blessed, but when I am persecuted there is a blessing and I should rejoice. Secondly, the persecution is because of something specific: Jesus and his righteousness. If you feel persecuted for any other reason, this passage does not apply. In the sermon Sunday, KPaul talked about how the believers were persecuted in the early church because they refused to worship Caesar. Their refusal was because that would have been in conflict with their complete devotion to Jesus Christ. That is the persecution that Jesus is speaking about here. If you are being persecuted because of your political alliances, no matter what side they are on, that’s not what Jesus is speaking about. Jesus is saying if your total devotion to him results in your persecution you are blessed. And finally, that persecution is comparable to what the prophets experienced. They told God’s truth to people who did not want to hear it, and as a result they were persecuted. So the question is not, how can I go get persecuted, but instead we should be asking ourselves two things: Am I totally devoted to Christ? And am I speaking the truth to people, even those who don’t want to hear it, even though there may be consequences?
So there is a situation in today’s news that applies here: Beth Moore. Beth Moore loves Jesus, and she has been speaking truth for many years. But in 2016, the truth she was speaking started to bother the people hearing it. She started questioning her denominational leadership’s seemingly unshakeable devotion to Donald Trump. She also started to stand up against racism and abuse in her denomination and for women and victims. In other words she began to speak truth that people did not want to hear. And people insulted her and falsely said all kinds of evil about her. And today she announced she can’t stay in the denomination anymore. I can’t say I blame her. But what surprises me about the whole situation is the number of people who say they love Jesus that can’t seem to hear truth anymore. Beth Moore has worked hard to be a peacemaker (last week’s sermon). She did her best to follow denominational restrictions while still doing what God had called her to do. But sometimes the truth is more important than peace. Truth can divide. I think that’s what Jesus meant when he said he did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Mt. 10:34 and Lk. 12:51). He wasn’t saying he came to start a war. He was saying that his coming would divide people because some people would respond to the truth and others would refuse to hear it. And that results in persecution. Sadly, here the persecution is from other Christians. Which reminds me that the prophets weren’t persecuted by the pagans but by other Jews. Now that leads to the question of what side of this verse are you on? We didn’t talk about that Sunday. But I think it might be good to examine ourselves and check. I certainly don’t want to be the persecutor.
Another thing rolling around in my head is Meghan and Harry. Don’t quit on me now. You don’t have to follow the royal dramas to hear this. What Meghan described on Sunday night was an abusive situation. Whether you believe her or not, that’s what she described. She was trusting the people in power over her. She was dependent upon them. And whether they were the abusers or they let others do it (the press), they could have stopped it. They didn’t. They silenced her. This is what abuse of power looks like. This is the basics of how abuse works. In this situation, there is also a serious undercurrent of racism. But she refused to be silenced, and she could do that because of the support of Harry. Beth Moore’s tweet says a lot: ““He ultimately called it.” Meghan about Harry. There comes a time when things are so unfeasible to navigate sanely that somebody’s gotta call it.” (That’s interesting considering it came out two days before the news that Beth had called it. Hmmm.) And thankfully Meghan had someone to call it. I wish all people who are struggling had someone who is stronger and more powerful than they are themselves to call it.
I was flabbergasted by the satirical website, The Babylon Bee’s awful post about this interview. (And no I will not link to it.) It basically says that if you are rich, if you have privilege, then you can’t be abused. You can’t suffer from mental health issues. And obviously those things make racism impossible as well. That is false. Period. Abuse and racism do not stop at a certain income level. And they are wrong no matter what. Mental health issues can affect everyone. Mental health issues are minimized in our culture. Currently as I fight for my daughter’s disability label due to some neurological and mental health issues, I see that so clearly. I see it in my own life as I question whether or not she can and she won’t or if she just can’t. And I know her. I know that she can’t. But mental health issues are not worn on the outside. They are hidden. And so we ignore them. We assume that they aren’t real. And that’s not true.
That’s a lot of stuff in my head. I have been studying Psalm 6 and hopefully I will have time to write about it yet this week. I am struggling with it which is one reason I didn’t post about it last week. Also, we will be having Bible quizzing this Saturday for the group that I work with. We haven’t had that since October due to COVID restrictions. So I have some extra responsibilities this week. And my knitting is at a transition point. I have finished things and am starting new things and am trying to decide what my next projects will be. I notice when I don’t have project that I can just sit down and work on that it is harder for me to sit down and write as well. I think that is because the knitting allows me time to slow down and process. That also is delaying my Psalm posts and probably leading to this random blog which actually tied together better than I thought it would.
My prayer for you is that you will be completely devoted to Jesus today. I pray that you will speak truth to those who need to hear it. I pray that you will hold your judgmental words (digital and real) because you have no idea what people are going through, and you do not want to be on the side of the people who are speaking evil about others and insulting them. Don’t be a persecutor. Be a peacemaker, a Jesus-lover, and a people-lover.
And may you be blessed by God’s word today.