There is a tendancy for the fundamentalist and liberal both to put a lot of emphasis on the last two beatitudes, maybe more than they should. I have found myself in this category a couple of times as well.
'Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets then went before.'
It is common for people to take these verses to justify themselves anytime someone disagrees with them. Lets take a doctrine like the foreknowledge of God, I avidly disagree with the stance of our staff, and the entire denomination as it pertains to election and God's foreknowledge. Yet when a pastor tells me in an e-mail dialog that I am wrong, is that persecution? Absolutely not, if anything it is rebuke or reproof, though not a wise reproof in my estimation, but nonetheless it is by no means persecution. The same can be said going the other way, if I tell someone that they are wrong when it comes to a doctrine like the total depravity of man, I am in no way persecuting them, I am simply offering reproof. Liberals in churches have become so sensative to disagreement that they always view it as division, disention, and persecution. They will water anything down to the point where everyone is happy. On the other hand many fundi's are out looking to get 'persecuted'. They will stir the kettle just to watch it boil without any desire to actually cook the meal. When it does boil over and they get burnt they say blessed are we because we have been persecuted.
Here is how it goes, the so called persecuted one takes a stand, someone disagrees, the disagreement is viewed as persecution. The so call called persecuted one then views this as a blessing because of the last two beatitudes. The 'persecuted' person can never be wrong, if someone disagrees with them they view it as a persecution blesssing, and if someone agrees they rejoice at the shared knowledge. I am not calling this a conservative or a liberal Christian issue, it is more of a fallen man issue that plagues all of Christendom. It is sad that we have turned real blessed persecution into a lame justification for the various stances we take.
What is the real blessed persecution? I think the key lies in the rest of the beatitudes. When the poor in spirit, mourning, meek, thirsting for righteousness, mericful, pure in heart, peacemaker is persecuted he may count it all joy and know that he or she is truely blessed. If we are abiding in Christ, and we are living the sweet blessed life charatarized by the beatitudes then there is no rational reason that we would ever be persecuted. Yet in living that life we certainly will be persecuted for righteousness sake, then and only then should we rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is the reward in heaven. Our battle is spiritual, and when we are pure in heart, humble, and gentle the spiritual forces of darkness will always lash out. On the other hand if we are presenting gospel truth in a spirit of bitterness, and seeking to simply watch the pot boil then our so called persecution is not blessed at all but well deserved, and we should be ashamed. Conversely if we are diluting gospel truth for the sake of unity and people rise against us that is not blessed persecution, but well deserved rebuke. If we would live out the first 7 beatitudes then we would truely understand last beatitudes' teaching concerning persecution.
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