10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. 11 “You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. 12 Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. — Matthew 5:10-16
Believers in the World
by David Hannah
Lockeland Springs Campus
As children of the ‘80s, my friends and I got see video games evolve from the humble Atari to the greatest invention any child had ever seen – the Nintendo Entertainment System. The rise of gaming culminated in 1991’s magnum opus known as Super Tecmo Bowl. It was (and arguably still is) the greatest video game ever created, and we were mesmerized. It was simple and fast, took about 90 seconds to learn, and could be played in the short window between helping with the dishes and brushing your teeth.
Like many my age, Super Tecmo Bowl came at the perfect time, and in many ways it was the line of demarcation between the simple joys of childhood and the confusion of adolescence. In the years following I lost interest in video games as other distractions began to demand my attention. Thirty years later I looked up and saw that “gaming” had become a world of its own. No longer were the games simple and easy to learn. They were complex and cinematic, and you had watch tutorials and cut scenes in order to follow the plot. Who knew video games could have a plot?
A buddy of mine loves to spend his leisure time deeply immersed in the fantasy worlds and epic battles of these modern video games, and he recently tried to teach me to play. He has a successful (albeit stressful) career, and he explained how the games provided a welcomed distraction—even if only for a brief period.
I sat down with him, and after several minutes of fumbling around trying to learn how to walk and look around, I was on my way. The problem was, I didn’t know which way I was supposed to be on! In this massive virtual world that has been built, you can go anywhere and do anything. How was I supposed to know if I was even walking the right direction in order to accomplish the task I had been assigned?
Then suddenly, some sort of goblin or something jumped out and attacked me. I frantically hit random buttons which resulted in spastic jumps and spins and swipes of swords! Then as suddenly as it started, it was over—the enemy vanquished at my feet. My friend looked at me and said, “You’re obviously going the right way. If you run across the enemy, you know you’re going the right direction.”
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us it is a blessing to be persecuted because of the righteousness He had just described, because we have the kingdom of heaven waiting for us. We should rejoice, He says, when we are persecuted, because it means we are part of a long line of men and women who have followed God’s will throughout history.
Essentially Jesus tells His followers, “If you run across the enemy in your life, rejoice—because it means you’re headed in the right direction.”
There is nothing in the scripture that promises following Jesus will result in a comfortable life; in fact, we are promised just the opposite. When we give our life to Jesus Christ, we inevitably become more and more like Him as we grow and mature in our faith. That doesn’t mean we are ever perfect, but it does mean we will begin to stand out. God’s promise is that when we are changed by the grace and love of Jesus Christ, the enemy will take notice. Persecution, sometimes subtle, sometimes overt, will invariably follow. It is my prayer that I can rejoice in that persecution as being a sign that God is with me.
- Have you felt persecuted in your life? How does manifest itself?
- If so, are you able to take joy in that persecution as being a sign that you are on the path God has laid before you?
- If not, ask yourself if you are living a life that would cause the world to treat you differently. Are you following God in a way that makes you stand out?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.