(Jesus said) "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." Matthew 5:11-12
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a black, 42-year-old seamstress refused to give her seat on a crowded bus to a white person. Fifty years ago, where Parks lived, that was against the law, and she was arrested.
Reaction to her arrest gave birth to a boycott of that community's bus service and to a movement to rectify some long-ignored injustices.
While Parks sat in jail, I wonder what she was thinking. Did she wonder if her act of civil disobedience for a right cause was worth it? Did she think it unfair that she, and not somebody else, was the individual who had to take a stand? Did she wonder if she might lose her job or suffer in some other way for what she had done?
I don't know what Parks was thinking, but I am almost positive she never thought, Gee, one day Congress is going to commission a statue of me. I will be honored, and that effigy will make me the first black woman to be given a permanent spot for display in the United States Capitol. Nope, I'm pretty sure she didn't think that at all. Still, that is what has happened. After she has died, Parks has been given such an honor.
Translating that story over for Christians, I'm fairly sure most believers who are persecuted don't think I should rejoice and be glad for this.
No, most of the time persecuted Christians would simply prefer to be free to worship their Savior, who sacrificed Himself to win their forgiveness and salvation. Such Christians don't want to cause problems, and they don't want to upset others. Still, when push comes to shove, when they have to decide whether they will compromise or be committed to the Christ, Jesus wins.
For such people of faith, Jesus wins hands down.
Many of you, when you read the paragraph about persecuted Christians, thought I was referring to our brothers and sisters around the world who risk their lives by going to church. Yes, I was speaking about them. But I was also writing about college students whose professors demean and degrade the Savior. I'm speaking about business men who play it straight rather than compromising their faith. I'm talking about the millions of you who have suffered because you love the Savior.
At such moments you may not feel glad or ready to rejoice, but you should. The Lord sees how important His Son is to you. He counts the cost, and He has promised a reward in heaven: a reward you will receive not because you wanted a bigger mansion, but because your faith in the Savior was more important than anything else.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, be with and strengthen the many Christians who are being forced to choose between serving You and getting along in this world. May their faith sustain them and may they feel gladness that You are there to strengthen and uphold them. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries