Lord, please help me to surrender to Your Word today. Help me to receive what You need me to hear and act upon what I am learning in my time with You. I so deeply desire to remain connected to You at all costs. Amen. Matthew 5:10-12 (The Message)
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
When I read these verses, especially in this paraphrase, I'm drawn to the statement "the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable". Why?
We humans so desperately seek comfort - physically, spiritually, emotionally - we long for comfort in any areas of our lives that are unsteady, unknown, or hurt. It doesn't matter if the source of comfort is healthy or unhealthy, we seek it desperately and try to hold onto it at all costs.
When we are uncomfortable, or our comfort is threatened, we adopt defense mechanisms to protect our zone of comfort. Our normal, if you will. If something challenges what we know to be normal or true and proves itself to be correct, then all we have built on our foundation of truth comes into question. So we defend our truth - our normal, our comfort - for all it's worth to keep that from happening.
It suddenly hits me that Jesus isn't giving us a scenario of us vs. them in these verses. He's not warning us of persecution by an enemy in this passage; rather, He is giving us understanding of persecution because of His name so that we can persevere and keep going in His name. The persecution is happening precisely BECAUSE another's 'truth' is being threatened by 'Truth' and that is a good thing. If the normal or the comfortable is not challenged, then nothing ever changes.
That's why Jesus lets us in on the celebration taking place in heaven. He reminds us that we are not alone - many have come before us who have faced the same persecution. This is a good thing.
I also realized that I don't want to get comfortable in my faith. I want to be uncomfortable - I want to constantly, intentionally seek connection with Christ so that my foundation never wavers and I have the ability to reach and seek and touch and shake up those that have gotten comfortable with their 'truths'.
Lord, please help me to rejoice in persecution because of You. Let me thank you that Your Truth is challenging the status quo and is not being ignored. Give me the continued strength and grace to push onward even when the pushback is too difficult to ignore. Keep me uncomfortable, Lord. Amen
What are your thoughts on today's reading?