Beatitude Eight—Blessed are those who are Persecuted Because of Righteousness

Daily Devotion Monday August 28, 2017

 

Image result for martyrdom Uganda martyrs images
An image depicting the killing of the Uganda Martyrs. Source: Hekima

 

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“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:10-12

Ray Boltz’s I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb first ministered to me deeply some few years ago when I was reflecting on the Uganda Martyrs. Between 1885-1886 a few dozens of young boys and men would not let their allegiance to the Lord Jesus be preceded by that to the Kabaka of Buganda. The young boys most of whom were pages of the Kabaka were among the first converts to Christianity after being evangelised by the Roman Catholic and Anglican missionaries. The apex of the Martyrdom saw forty-five Christians (twenty-two Roman Catholics and twenty-three Anglicans) martyred with majority burnt while some were either beheaded, dismembered or speared to death.

I am not a fun of martyrs and saints, but the way these Christians wouldn’t deny Christ even when persecuted to death speaks a lot to me. Of one of them—Charles Lwanga, James Martin writes;

“On June 3 [1886], before the execution of the rest of the young men, Charles Lwanga was put to death by the king’s men. He was wrapped tightly in a reed mat, a yoke was hung on his neck, and he was thrown onto a pyre. Taunting his executioners, Charles is said to have shouted, “You are burning me, but it is as if you are pouring water over my body!” Before he died he cried out, “Katonda,” or “My God.”[1]

The Uganda Martyrs and many other Christian men and women have been persecuted and many martyred because they chose righteousness amidst several options. The pages of Kabaka Mwanga chose an allegiance to the Lord Jesus—their new-found King than to an earthly king. Like Ray Boltz writes in his song, the pages

“Were brought before a tyrant’s throne, they were told that he would spare their lives if they would renounce the name of Christ. But one by one they chose to die the Son of God they would not deny.”[2]

In his sermon on the mount, Jesus preached;

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

This sermon, even if it didn’t make sense to the disciples the day it was delivered, it did make a lot of sense some years later when they were persecuted for preaching Christ. The disciples knew that Christ is there righteousness, they knew that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. They knew that there is no life outside Christ. The disciples were jailed, flogged, dragged before courts and many martyred. But they stood firm, they knew that being martyred will only cause pain to the flesh and that they rather are blessed when being persecuted because of righteousness.

As disciples of Christ, we should pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in practicing our faith and preaching Christ in a secular world so that we don’t provoke our persecution. And, if we find ourselves being persecuted, it is right that we rather be persecuted than forsake Christ.

“Our postmodern age preaches tolerance but it is very intolerant to faith—especially Christianity.”

Open persecution still occur in many places where Christians are the minority. And,  more persecutions of Christians equally happens in Christian majority countries. Many young Christian university students suffer at the hands of unbelieving professors because of their faith in Christ. Some Christians have lost their jobs because they believe Jesus is Lord. And many are being persecuted in ways I can’t exhaust here. Are you one who is experiencing persecution? May these words of Jesus bring you hope that;

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Amen!

Rev. J

__________________________

[1] Martin, James S.J accessed from https://www.americamagazine.org/content/all-things/story-ugandan-martyrs

[2] Ray Boltz accessed from http://www.metrolyrics.com/i-pledge-allegiance-to-the-lamb-lyrics-ray-boltz.html


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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture Quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV) 2011.

Rev. Julius Izza Tabi is the founding Director of this online New Dawn Ministries. He holds a Master of Philosophy in Religion, Society and Global Issues from the Norwegian School of Theology. Julius also is a pastor in the Anglican Diocese of Ma’di and West Nile of the Church of Uganda who believes that God’s timeless truth of salvation must be preached to all Nations. Help Donate here to support the New Dawn Ministries. You can also support this ministry by purchasing Julius’ popular books Triumphing Over Odds and Suffering and Pain? from Amazon. Thank you.

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