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Beatitues, part 8: Blessed are Those Persecuted for Righteousness

Ultimately, what do the Beatitudes celebrate as virtues?

Poor in spirit.  MourningMeeknessHunger and thirst for righteousness.  Showing mercyPureness of heart.  Making peace.  Things not seen by our secular world as virtuous.

But the final Beatitude is the kicker.

I don’t know how the prosperity gospel ever came to be.  Nor do I know how asinine arguments like this one from God is Imaginary could ever capture the imaginations of serious Bible readers.


Because Jesus said:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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.  (Mt 5:10-12)

This one of many times the theme of persecution is introduced into the Bible.  In fact, one Bible teacher insists that there is at least one reference in all sixty-six books of the Bible to suffering for the sake of God’s kingdom.


Sorry, Marshall Brain.  That means that we aren’t going to end suffering and death with prayer.  Your argument fails.

Sorry, Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes and Ed Young and Kenneth Copeland and others who have bought your lie.  God’s plan includes suffering.

In fact, to suffer is the ultimate virtue.  Suffering imitates all of the great Old Testament prophets.  When we are ridiculed for preaching God’s word, the word of God through Christ is confirmed to us.  Christ said we’d suffer on his account.

We do.  Look at the issues that set conservative Christians apart from the secular world. Read the rest of this entry

Beatitudes, part 6: Blessed are the Pure in Heart

Examining the Beatitudes, we see a stark contrast with what God deems a virtue and what society deems a virtue.  To God, the poor, the mourning, the meek, the hungry, and the merciful are blessed.  Each will receive a portion that makes up for the deficiency: the poor inherit the kingdom of heaven, the mourning are comforted, the meek inherit the earth, the hungry are satisfied, and the merciful are shown mercy.

Compare with Western society, where people should be happy and wealthy, while the meek and merciful don’t climb the corporate ladder.

But the pure of heart (Mt 5:8) have it the worst.  Try standing for the Christian value of your choice and see how far it gets you.  Stand for traditional marriage, be called a homophobe.  Stand for pro-life and watch as someone starts a blog where your head is photoshopped onto a porn star in the midst of some humiliating sex act.  Stand for Jesus as the only way to God and be called an arrogant SOB who thinks people of all other religions are scum, fit only to be eliminated.  Watch as people point and laugh at a father-daughter prom where the daughter makes a promise to stay a virgin until marriage.

Why are traditional Christian values so maligned in pop culture?

Paul answered that for us when he wrote that “to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled” (Tts 1:15).  He told the Ephesians, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (Eph 4:18).

The cure?  See life united in faith to God:

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ez 36:25-27)

How can we be “pure of heart?”

It’s actually simple.  First, accept Christ and become a new creation (2 Cor 5:17).  Then, with his Spirit inside you, live true to your new self.  Psalm 51:6 says that God desires “truth in the innermost being.”  That’s as good as any description I’ve ever heard of integrity — that the show you put on to everyone actually reflects what is inside.  Those who act in a way that doesn’t jive with their inner selves receive some very strong condemnations from Christ in Matthew 23:25-28.

Expect persecution when living by God’s standards.  If you uphold that which God holds dear, the world deems you a fundamentalist wacko; a homophobic, misogynistic bigot who beats his children before using time-outs.

Let them think all of those untrue things.  Our reward is great:  the pure of heart will see God.