Thursday, November 09, 2006

Matthew 5:11 – 12
Persecuted in America

I. Expect external pressure.

A. Three things Jesus mentions:

1. Insult (name calling)

a. This is childish behavior.

b. The aim is public perception.

2. Persecution (government intervention)

a. These are legal attacks.

b. There is the physical use of force. (e.g. Darfur)

3. False accusations (slander)

a. These are made up stories.

b. In reality, it is a mythology surrounding Christians. (e.g. Romans believed Christians were cannibals because of communion.)

B. The situation today in America.

1. Insult

a. Christians have been called “flat-earthers.”

b. Christians have been called “hatemongers” (e.g. a Light and Life magazine article interviewing a big name Christian author who accused Free Methodists of being “hatemongers” because we see homosexuality as a sin, along with many others.)

2. Persecution

a. Students sent to the principals office for praying (silently) before meals.

b. In CA, FL, WA, anti-Christian bias in the court system is being used in custody battles.

c. Battles over the potential of church property seized for commercial interest.

d. Judge More removed from his state supreme court for the public display of the 10 Commandments (actually a Jewish symbol).

3. False accusations

a. Dobson/Focus on the Family was sued for the tragic murder (all murders are tragic) of a gay man in Nebraska (even though the crime was committed by non-Christians).

b. Creation scientists are openly discriminated against.

c. “Value” voters are told not to vote.

d. Woman fired from library for “insubordination” for not working Sundays (which she had never done in 36 years).

II. Understand what underpins the hostility is a hatred of Jesus.

A. Anti-God behavior is historic.

1. Jesus said, “they persecuted the prophets.”

a. Jesus said, “Men love darkness rather than light.”

b. light/truth will never be tolerated by those who control oppressive systems.

2. Persecution - around the world - is accelerating.

a. It is said that more Christians have died in the last 10 years than in the history of the world. (e.g. Darfur is ignored because it is CHRISTIAN)

b. The good news is that under persecution, the church expands rapidly. (e.g. A pastor in Bagdad tells how his church has grown since 2001.)

B. The reality: persecution is not about us.

1. John 15:18 – 21, Its about Jesus.

a. The would “hates” Jesus.

b. We do not belong to the world.

2. 2 Timothy 3:12, Its about lifestyle.

a. Wanting to live godly lives makes others nervous. (If someone is able then others are without excuse.)

b. Godliness is the opposite of what is wanted.

III. How should the Christian react to persecution?

A. Jesus said to “rejoice and be glad” (Matthew 5:12)

1. The Apostles were imprisoned and beaten... their response?

“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. [42] Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 5:41 – 42)

2. It has been said that the mortar that has built the church was the blood of the saints.

B. Jesus said to love and pray for them. (Matthew 5:44)

1. Christianity (and the church) is simple (not easy):

a. Love God. (Matthew 22:37)

b. Love others. (Matthew 22:38)

c. Serve in love. (John 13:34)

2. Other things Jesus said to do:

a. Go the extra mile. (Matthew 5:41)

b. Turn the other cheek. (Matthew 5:39)

c. Do to others what you want done to you. (Matthew 7:12)

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