Summary: How do we deal with the hatred and anger in our world? We become peacemakers and allow the Holy Spirit to give us God’s strength to face persecution for Jesus’s name.
In my last post, I taught on the middle three Beatitudes of hungering and thirsting for righteousness, being merciful, and being pure of heart. In this post, I conclude discussion of the Beatitudes with the last three.
We’ve began our miniseries on Developing Christian Character in the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes. So far, we’ve talked about six of the nine Beatitudes in Part 1 and Part 2. These last three are the toughest Beatitudes to take on.
People don’t like persecution or being hated by the world. Not everyone can be a peacemaker. We live in a world of war and hate. So we must take on these worldly values. Jesus calls us to be peacemakers, persecuted, and hated by the world.
How are we blessed when the world persecutes and hates us? Jesus blesses us in the end instead of now. Right now, we “take it on the chin” for Jesus. We put ourselves out there and take one for the team. These Beatitudes call for simple obedience. So let’s get uncomfortable and get started with the last three Beatitudes.
We have already covered the first six Beatitudes. Part 1 covered the poor in spirit, those who mourn, and the meek. Part 2 discussed hungering and thirsting for righteousness, being merciful, and the pure in heart.
If you missed those posts, you can check them out to get caught up. My introduction to the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes in Part 1 applies here. Here’s teaching on the last three Beatitudes
Be a Peacemaker
Only Matthew has this beatitude about being a peacemaker (Matthew 5:9). Our world is full of hate, bitterness, and war. We will fight for anything like natural resources, our attitude toward another nation, or revenge.
We have more war hawks than peacemakers. It’s easier to pull the trigger or push the nuclear button than to settle our differences through peace. Jesus calls us to be peacemakers in this world of war and hate. When our first inclination is to lash out, Jesus calls us as His disciples to reach out in peace and love toward our enemies.
Jesus asks a hard thing from us. Peacemakers seek to find common ground and leverage it to bring peace. Biblical peace is more than stopping the fighting. It requires harmony between former enemies. We can stop fighting but still hate. We can stop fighting but still be angry, jealous, and calculating retribution.
Peacemaking calls us to know less than making friends out of enemies. It’s not me who make peace but the Holy Spirit who draws enemies close together and makes us friends. The Spirit does great work in the hearts of people to bring peace, and minister piece through us.
When we are involved, we must make peace with those who war against us. If we are brokering peace between two warring persons or factions, the Spirit places in our minds a way toward peace. People who are fighting one another don’t want to find compromise and common ground.
Peacemaking is one of the hardest things you will ever do as Jesus’s disciple. You can’t do it on your own. You need the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is our first example in peacemaking. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles, the hostile parties of His day (Ephesians 2:11-22.
Jesus made peace by dying on the Cross and making a way for Jews and Gentiles to come together under His banner. Peacemaking will cost you everything you hold dear. It will break your flesh of its hostilities toward another. It will take you to the edge of yourself.
When you make peace with others or between others, Jesus says you are blessed because He will call you a son of God, a child of the Most High. Why? Because you accomplish the same goal the Father has. You bring peace to a warring world. You identify with God. People see you as someone who has the same DNA is God.
But you must make peace out of Obedience to your Master. You must die to yourself and sacrifice whatever you hold dear that keeps you from peace. So, rely on the Holy Spirit and make peace with others and between others.
We certainly cannot see the blessedness in suffering persecution. As people who identify with Jesus and our His disciples, we face in anger and hatred others don’t know how to handle. How do you combat or calm such fury?
We don’t. Jesus gives us the strength, peace, and kindness to handle it. The Holy Spirit dwelling in us as Christians gives us God’s attributes despite of our situation. When others hurl insults, lay hands on us, or take drastic measures of violence against us, we rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit in us.
Most Americans have no conception of what persecution is like. God has blessed us in the United States with peaceful neighbors and a government that does not hunt us down. The Bible is clear that this will not always be the case.
We enjoy our freedom in the United States for now. Thank God He has given us this relative piece! Without His grace in this nation, we would fill the full wrath of this world. We have brothers and sisters in Christ around this globe that suffer life-ending persecution.
Let us pray for missionaries and Christians in violent nations who endure the onslaught of persecution every day. If you can do more beyond the power of prayer, include yourself in these nations and Christians to affect God’s change and protection, we add you to our prayer lists and hearts.
Be Reviled by the World
If we don’t suffer persecution as I have described, we still deal with the hatred of the world. Jesus uses strong language here to show that hate and desire of the world system against us. Both Matthew and Mark record the vitriol of enemies of Jesus and our faith (Matthew 5:10-12; Luke 6:22-23).
The persecution in Luke and Matthew described focuses on speech. Even Americans experience verbal persecution. People will say the most hateful, hurtful things about Jesus. And because we are connected with Him, we experience some of that hate speech.
Oh, our government won’t label it that. None of our enemies would admit to an actual crime like hate speech. But that’s exactly what Jesus has in view. Like persecution above, Jesus qualifies verbal persecution as being done to us for the sake of His name.
We cannot claim this persecution, or any persecution, because we have been offensive to others, choosing the worst ways to witness to them, or stuffing our Christianity in their face to make us look good. It cannot be about us. This persecution must come against Jesus, and us as His representatives.
If people hate you because you are not a good representative of Jesus and spew hate toward them, that does not count. You must be a humble, confident sermon of Jesus, unafraid to share your faith, and they must hate Jesus so much that when they see Him in you, they lash out against you and Jesus.
Let us be blessed as Jesus’s faithful servants and ambassadors in this world to face the hateful speech and rhetoric against us and Jesus. His blessing does not come in this life. No one who faces persecution is happy now. Suffering persecution for Jesus’s name pays eternal dividends. Jesus says we will be blessed because our reward in heaven is great. May we represent Jesus so well that we experience verbal persecution for His name’s sake.
Take every opportunity to be a peacemaker, whether it’s between you and another person or between two people. Don’t look for persecution, but indoor it for the sake of Christ. Allow Jesus’s character to be in you so much that people see Jesus instead of you.
We have talked about all the Beatitudes. We will continue in the Sermon on the Mount, talking about being salt and light in the world.