“I just think you’re wasting your energy. I know Jesus means a lot to you, but you need to face reality.”
Those words are several months old now, and spoken by someone who really thought he was helping, but knowing he feels like that still cuts me.
Some days, it makes me want to give up.
And in those moments I desperately look to Scripture for something to hang on to.
Something like this:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)
That’s a beautiful promise, but as someone whose persecution is pretty light I’m really not sure if I qualify. Like, maybe you’ll get the kingdom once you’re burned at the stake or something.
But here’s where Jesus was so unbelievably kind. He doesn’t leave us to worry over what does or doesn’t count, but keeps going, and says:
“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.”(Matthew 5:11-12)
Did you see that?
Jesus counts verbal abuse.
He cares when people hate you, and lie about you. He sees it when they think you’re crazy, or dumb. When somebody gripes you out for being a Christian he notices.
Your “light” persecution matters to God.
He isn’t waiting to for you to get beat up before you get in on this promise. There’s a great reward for you.
One of the implications is that this gives us permission to feel the pain. I don’t have to beat myself up for taking it hard when I’m disliked, while someone else was stabbed. This isn’t a suffering contest.
Does the sister facing that attack suffer more? Absolutely. Is her reward greater? I think so, and that should lead me to humility.
But that doesn’t mean I’m excluded from the kingdom.
Jesus acknowledges the pain of being griped out, yelled at, disliked, lied about, looked down on, and told to shut up.
And the reward is coming that will make it worth it.
I’m holding on to that.