The Sermon on the Mount
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10).” This is the line from The Beatitudes in The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus taught us that the Kingdom of God belongs to those who suffer for doing good. And He is also calling them “blessed”, but why can the persecution be the blessing for us? What is the relation between the persecution and the kingdom of heaven? The answers for those questions can be found in this letter Philippians by knowing the suffering for Christ’s sake that the church and Paul experienced.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
- Matthew 5:10-12
The Persecution for Christ’s sake
The church in Philippi was in the conflict for spreading the Word of Christ, and as Paul said he was in the same battle(1:30). They were both being persecuted for Christ’s sake. He was imprisoned and was in suffer for need. But Paul and the Church were filled with joy and were encouraged by each other. So they continued striving with one love, one spirit and one mind.
“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”
- Philippians 1:25-30
The Opponents of the Gospel
So who were their enemies in this battle? Who were suffering them? There were physical enemies like the people who were called “the evildoers(3:2)” or “the opponents of the Gospel(1:).” Or the things such as imprisonment, illness, and poverty were also the causes of their suffering. And they were things that Paul called “the enemies of the cross of Christ(3:18)” in this letter.
Fighting for the Faith
As Paul said in 1:28, fighting against them with one spirit for the faith of the gospel is “the clear sign of enemies’ destruction(1:28).”So even if it seems like the enemies are receiving glory(3:19) on the earth. Their glory is the earthly thing and so it will fade away and it will turn into shame of themselves(3:19) at the end after all. And this is the destruction that is waiting for them. But in contrast to their glory our hope is not the earthly things but Jesus Christ who is in heaven. Because we know and believe that even if we suffer for Christ’s sake on this earth, we will receive “the prize of the upward.” So our earthly enemies will receive temporal glory, but we will resurrect as the people who have the citizenship in heaven and will receive eternal glory. And this is why we continue striving on this earth for Christ by believing in His resurrection and hoping for the eternal life.
“Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”
- Philippians 3:19
Glory of God
Than does this mean that we have no glory on this earth? No we do not. But also, we can answer “yes” to this question confidently. Because if we continue having hope for the prize of heaven and rejoice in the Lord always that will be the perfect indication of the glory of God (1:11). Glory of God is also the glory for us. So the glory of God is the prize that we will receive in heaven as Paul wrote in this letter that God will make us into the likeness of own glorious self in heaven. And that is the form of the citizens of heaven.
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
- Philippians 1:9-11
Imprisonment for Christ’s Sake
Even if we will be imprisoned or be in poverty and persecuted. If we have love in Christ between us and rejoice in unity at any circumstance with the heart filled with thankfulness to God, we will be the light of the glory of God in the world. And not only on the earth, but it will continue eternally in heaven. Because this is the victory in the battle for the Gospel. the glory of God in the world. And not only on the earth, but it will continue eternally in heaven because this is the victory in the battle for the Gospel.
“Finally, my brothers,rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.”
- Philippians 3:1