Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew 5:10 – “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

In the spring of 1988 I had my eyes open to what it really means to be persecuted because of righteousness. Prior to that time I thought I had it all figured out. I’d grown up in a Christian home, accepted Christ when I was a young boy, and been teased about my Christian faith in many different arenas. But, I had known nothing of true persecution.

My freshman year in college I travelled with a group of college students to the country of Romania. Nicolae Ceauşescu was the leader of the country then. He ruled Romania with an iron fist from March 22, 1965 until December 22, 1989. As General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party, Ceauşescu outlawed Christianity. Those brave men and women who claimed Christ were often times imprisoned, beaten, ridiculted, mocked, put on a downward career path, and sometimes killed for their faith. Our group of students met with hundreds of Romanian Christians during that trip in 1988. We even visited the square where 21 months later Christian students would stand by each other in solidarity to protect a pastor, and start a revolution.

Persecution of Christians is rampant all over the world. Christ tells us in Scripture to pray for and take care of those who are persecuted for their faith. He also tells us to expect persecution. Walk with Christ, and you will face trials. And, in Matthew 5:10, Christ tells us that those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

This world we live in is passing away. Our lives are but a speck of dust. We appear for a while and then we vanish. Make the most of the years that God gives you to make and impact for Him while you are here. Don’t live for the kingdoms of this world, but for the kingdom of heaven. Show the world what it means to be a citizen of Christ’s kingdom. Live as one who has been touched by Him.

Dear God,

You have blessed us beyond measure. I can’t even pretend to understand what it truly means to suffer for being a follower of Jesus Christ. Help me to always stand firm for You, no matter the cost. And, help me to remember to live as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

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