Keeping the Commands of Christ – Week Three – Rejoice! (Short Post)
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” -Matthew 5:12
Here, the Lord presents us with a dual picture of the life of his disciples, specifically when they suffer hardship on account of following Him. The temporal experience of the Christian will include reviling and persecution, while at the same time great rewards are being stored up for that person in heaven. In order to rejoice, the disciple’s mindset must be heavenly-oriented–as Paul says, “Set your mind on things above, not things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:2-4 ESV
Believing that our lives are hidden with Christ in God is the key not only to rejoicing in persecutions, but to being faithful enough to Christ to be persecuted in the first place. Abiding in the life of God, we must see the world through His eyes. Persecution needn’t be political or large-scale; Jesus also counted people disparaging the character of His disciples because of their obedience to Him. Jesus said that the world hated Him because He testified of it that its deeds were evil. (John 7:7) As the servant is not greater than the master, bitter reviling and slander will often come against Christians due to their testimony against the sin of the world as well.
The Christian’s rejoicing in persecutions arises out of an understanding of being in fellowship with Christ, with His sufferings. To suffer with Him, for Him, is to be invited more deeply into His life.