Blessed Through Persecution?

by Jor-El Godsey, President
Mount of the Beatitudes Galilee Israel 12Heartbeat International

The Beatitudes, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, are a list of characteristics He calls us to be as well as the spiritual reality of blessings that flow when we fulfill those characteristics. (Matthew 5)

Poor in spirit. Check.

Mourn. Check.

Meek. Check.

Hunger and thirst for righteousness. Check.

Merciful. Check.

Pure in heart. Check.

I say, “Check,” not because I’ve fully accomplished any of these, but I understand how they are to help me shape my internal person, and my outward effort. I check these as important things to work toward and embrace.

But then I run into the 8th blessing characteristic. Unlike the others, this one does not immediately focus on my inward nature and longing. Instead it invites actions from others. Others who stand against me. In fact, they actually insult and persecute me.

“Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:11a 

Wait, what?!? I’m blessed when others insult, revile, mock, lie, and utter all kinds of evil against me falsely? (I’m borrowing from various bible translations to explore what “persecute” fully means.)

Of course these types of things are all very common at the big sports rivalry game each year. But not something I expect when we’re trying to help people choose the Gift of Life and the Giver of Life.

There are many examples in recent years of this very type of mocking, lying, insulting attack against the pregnancy help movement. We’ve documented attacks from NARAL, HBO’s John Oliver, Abortion Access Front (formerly known as Lady Parts Justice League), Texas Handmaids, medical groups, women’s marches, OpenDemocracy, and more.

But the very recent attack against Adirondack Pregnancy Center seem to advance Alinsky-styled tactics at the hands of the Democratic Socialists of America to keep this brand new pregnancy help harbor from even opening their doors. And they attempt to use their Heartbeat International connection to make some grander play. All in an effort to keep local women from having access to a choice besides abortion.

And there it is.

The work of the pregnancy help movement is all about the work of the Holy Spirit in championing the worth of the Gift of Life – for the mom and her baby and the family. It is every bit part of the Great Commandment to love and the Great Commission to go.

This is all for “righteousness’ sake.”

And that is where the blessing comes. When we, members of the pregnancy help movement, are persecuted for fulfilling the call of God to help her choose life, we partake in the blessing of the Cross. Jesus, Himself, was persecuted for righteousness’ sake so that He could conquer the death sentence of sin. And before Him, His prophets were persecuted for even carrying the message of life over death.

Why should we be different? In our way, we speak life to this generation. And they hate us, not unlike those of old hated Jesus (Jn 15:18).

We are blessed to have the gift of being persecuted for His name and His work. It does not make our work perfect, but it does mean our work’s goal is holy. Championing God’s Gift of Life is partnering with Him in a stand against today’s culture of death.

So take heart because the next verse (Matt 5:12) calls us to “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…”