"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 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."
I have to admit that I cannot relate to being persecuted.. much less persecuted for righteousness sake. Yet even the casual reader of the bible, or of the history that follows the biblical text, understands that people have been, and are being, persecuted for their faith.
So, the question is how can a person like me (and maybe you) even relate to these verses. I could try to find some analogy, or even regale you with stories of martyrs, but anything that I think of seems to fall short when I think of the way that most of us in the West live these days.
So my challenge, and maybe yours, is to keep before my heart those who suffer persecution in other lands.. those who are imprisoned for righteousness sake.. those who are beaten on account of their faith.. those who are murdered because they preach the gospel.
Lord, help those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.