Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
So, I’ve been called a few names. You, too? One such incident stalking my memory happened in a college classroom. That particular afternoon I passionately laid out my thinking on an assigned subject. I really put myself out there, not so much hoping to influence my classmates but more to test my own thinking. When I finished my paragraphs, a hand shot up and waived violently, begging to be called upon. When the student spoke, it only took one sentence to enrage me. “Her ideas are bogus.”
The “her” was me! I’ve been called a few names. Bogus was a brand new insult. And I had immediate and, well, ugly thoughts about my student colleague that afternoon.
Jesus says we are blessed, rewarded or (a better translation) honored when people insult us on account of Jesus shining through our lives. In other words, the more the priorities of Jesus reshape us, the more this will interrupt status quo in our relationships.
We ought to expect we will be pushed out of certain social circles, family relationships and even suffer consequences professionally or with our livelihood.
This final beatitude summarizes the consequences of taking all the prior beatitudes seriously. When we choose peacemaking instead of retaliation, someone in our circle will punish us. When we choose a merciful response rather than a judgmental one, someone in our circle will punish us. When we choose meekness over domination, someone in our circle will punish us. Jesus brings consequences.
Take time this week to reflect on all eight beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5, as a whole. They summarize the realities of God’s kingdom here and now. Mourning and meekness and purity and peacemaking might earn us insults in a culture that plays power games. But listen for the voice that matters, the affirming voice of Jesus who announces, “Blessed are you!”