Do peace and persecution go together?
The short answer is yes – and for proof we need to look no further than Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” said Jesus. He then continued: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:9-10).
Is it coincidental that those two verses are back-to-back? No. That’s because pursuing the peace of the Lord in a broken world is likely to generate some controversy – and sometimes a lot of it.
Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a former British medical doctor who left medicine for ministry and for three decades pastored the famed Westminster Chapel in London, once put it bluntly and succinctly:
“The real Christian is a man who is not praised by everybody.”
Whether it’s navigating the slings and arrows of the abortion radicals or those bent on indoctrinating and brainwashing children regarding the gender revolution, these days are not for the faint of heart.
Discouragement is one of the favorite tools of the enemy, and today’s mainstream news publications are full of heinous headlines that could easily demoralize even the most faithful and optimistic Christian. Yet the very best news amid all the bad news is that the Good News of Jesus Christ will eventually prevail.
But in the meantime, what are we to do?
Pastor Henry Blackaby may have said it best:
“Watch to see where God is working and join Him in His work.”
God is working at your local church. Maybe this is the summer for you to volunteer at vacation bible school – or ask the pastoring staff if there are shut-ins who would benefit from a visit. Church youth programs are regularly understaffed and in desperate need of volunteers.
God is working at your local pregnancy resource center. Perhaps you could offer to help around the office, fold some baby clothes or visit with an overwhelmed and uncertain woman who finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy.
God is working in your local Trail Life or American Heritage Girls scout troops. These excellent organizations are wonderful alternatives to either the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. Those legendary groups have lost their way – and faithful believers have stepped in to meet the spiritual needs of today’s children.
It might be easier to sit back and lament the state of the world, even wax nostalgic about the ways things used to be.
It’s easier and seemingly safer to avoid the conflicts and the controversies – but how does that square with Paul’s words to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2) or his words to the Philippians: “Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (2:4).
Doing the difficult things will take your time, take your measure, and may even take your money – but you will never regret the effort and the Lord will reward the outcome.
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