These are remarkable words from Christ instructing us to have the attitude of being blessed in the case of being insulted, physically abused and falsely accused. The beatitude of the previous verse "Blessed are the persecuted who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." This beatitude firstly makes clear that these afflictions come from our acknowledgment of God through God's grace of His being creator and worthy of praise and glory. And it stresses that our blessing is our present tense inheritance of the kingdom of heaven, ie, now and for all time.
So it would seem that, as we saw in the previous devotional, we are in one instance called to pray to God and hand over our afflictions to Him. But in the same instance, as our scripture before us now reveals, we are to stand before God in the knowledge that our persecution is assurance of ultimate blessing from Him.
The early Hebrew Christians understood this principle of being blessed in persecution: "Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in great contest in the face of suffering...You sympathised with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions," (Heb 10:32,34). These Hebrews had taken and made real in their lives the true cosmic reality of God raising us up with Christ from the dead to the heavenly realms far above all power, authority or dominion and into an inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade. Their inheritance of the kingdom of Heaven was reality in their minds, hearts and souls.
Oh how much we in the Church of the West could do with having this spiritual truth alive in our lives. We are so often blinded by our bills of rights and self-righteous demands for religious freedom that we fail to see that if these were stripped away from us, we would lose nothing, but only gain in the blessing of Christ that he spoke upon the persecuted: the kingdom of Heaven.
Father, please help us to remember that though we pray and work for our brothers and sisters to worship you freely, heaven, not earthly freedom is our blessing. Amen.