Jesus had just told all His new followers that God would bless them as they opened up to this ‘New Kind of Faith’, this new relationship with God, through Jesus himself.
Now He has to turn a corner and let them know that this will cost! It may be hard!
He changes the subject from the abstract to the personal.
Instead of ‘God blesses those who…’, He now says “God blesses YOU…”
The problem is what follows:
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.” (Matthew 5:11)
Well, that escalated quickly!
In all seriousness, Jesus is saying that ‘It’s true: God knows you. He sees you. He knows your heart…and He will bless you for it. However, not everyone will react that way. Some will actually HATE you because of me!‘
He wants His followers to know, right at the beginning, that it will be tough, and there will be a cost to pay for following Him.
How should they react when it happens?
“Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” (v. 12)
In other words, He reminds them that there has always been a ‘cost’ involved in doing God’s will, and there always will be. They were not the first ones who have had to ‘endure suffering’ for faith in God, and they would not be the last.
We, too, can ‘suffer’ for our faith.
Right now, in our culture–America in 2015–there usually isn’t any physical cost…but there can be many other kinds.
If we are faithful to Him as Savior and Lord, others may accuse us of being exclusionary.
If we are true to the Word of God, others may accuse us of being narrow-minded and judgmental.
Depending on the situation, you may pay with your livelihood!
Yet, our brothers and sisters across the world are paying with their homes, their jobs, their families…even with their lives! More people have been martyred for the name of Jesus in the last 100 years than at any other time in history!
Yet, in many ways, they did not lose…they won! They triumphed! They were blessed in the suffering!
We need to be willing to follow Him, no matter the cost.
We need to take a different perspective than the ‘right-here, right-now’ way most of our world thinks. If we are following Jesus Christ, we live from and for eternity!
There will be a cost to pay. He knows it’s hard.
He blesses us in the struggle!