The Persecuted for Righteousness Sake

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Last week, in our study of what is to be a peacemaker, one of the many verses that we spent time with was Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” A few things jump out at us as we think about this verse. First, and this really is the main point, Christians should spend their time, energies and influence in pursuit of peace, but, secondly, we also see that Paul adds some qualifying language (“if possible” and “so far as it depends on you”) that clearly implies that peace may not always be achieved despite the sincere efforts of Christian peacemakers. Logically it follows then that peace as a goal must be subordinated to something else in the Christian life. When push comes to shove, our allegiance to God cannot be set aside for the sake of peace.

Of course, the Christian should stand ready to sacrifice a lot for the sake of peace. Jesus was describing a Christian’s response to naked aggression and unfair treatment when He said, “But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” And you might remember how Abram dealt with his nephew Lott, saying, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” What are these passages describing but a willingness to sacrifice and even suffer loss for the sake of peace?

However, our Bibles are clear that being put at peace with God will put us at odds with the world. Abel was killed with a rock. Daniel was tossed into a lion’s den. Jeremiah was thrown down a well. And the Prince of Peace was nailed to a cross. These men did not invite this treatment somehow. They were peaceable men whose love of righteousness brought them into conflict with wicked people.

Join us as we conclude our sermon series through the beatitudes. We’ll be studying Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”