Great is Your Reward
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12
Not too long ago in this country and indeed in most parts of the western world, there was a general regard for and respect of Judeo Christian values, particularly Christians in service to the poor and needy. Someone in the dress of a priest or nun or identifying themselves with the church were allowed access to places the average person would have been denied. Yes, there has always been anti-Semitism and there have always been atheists and those who hold anti-Christian attitudes against people of faith in Jesus Christ in general. But for the most part those were not mainstream ideas and certainly few if any railed against God and the church with the level of vitriol and unrestrained hatred and violence that we see increasingly today.
From our education system (K- 12) and the level of anti Christian rhetoric espoused on college and university campuses we have seen a great shift from respect and deference to Christian values, to an indiscriminate embrace and demand for secularism and the suppression, mocking and dismissal of all things Judeo-Christian.
It used to be that open hostility to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was common in remote countries of the world and places where strongholds of witchcraft and demonic worship dominated the cultures. But, today there is a growing hostility in western nations including the United States in unprecedented measure, primarily, I believe, because we are approaching the end times that Jesus said would come. [2 Peter 3:3-12]
But, despite the efforts of the Christ haters to dominate the public discourse, the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still going out to all the world. And in no small way our lives are a part of the declaration of that message. We are living epistles (open letters of witness) to the world.
“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: For as much as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3
The way we are living, the manner of our conversation, the good works that we do, the hope we bring to the hopeless, the light we shine for the lost, the Word we offer in comfort and encouragement, the peace we live and share with others, the way we respond in love in the face of hate, all these are declaring that Jesus Christ is alive and living in us.
When we are buffeted because of it we can rejoice knowing that we are assured of a reward in Heaven. In this and other Words of Jesus we are reminded that our lives are only briefly connected to this world. We are destined for eternity with God the Father, Jesus Christ our Lord and the Blessed Holy Spirit. There we will receive great reward for being His ambassadors while we are here in earth.
So, we live not to please men or just to keep our heads down and avoid conflict. We don’t compromise our values in some false attempt to persuade someone to accept our Lord. And even if we did and succeeded in winning them on that basis, we would only be persuading them to accept a compromised and therefore counterfeit version of our Christ.
So, we live the truth, we live the faith and we look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who also for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and is now seated a the right hand of the Father in Heaven. He endured so, in Him, we also can endure.
Persecution is not foreign to life of the confessing believer, but great reward in Heaven is greater than persecution here on earth. To God be the glory, honor, dominion, majesty, power and all praise now and forever. Amen