# Blessing China 8 : The Be Happy Attitudes: Eight Principles for Successful Living Persecution cause of Righteousness - Do the right thing (05/10/08)

The Message

By: Dr. Robert A Schuller

Special Guest

Rev. Dr. Ng Chun Chi

Special Music

"God Bless our Native Land"
"Rejoice, the Lord is the King"
"The Lord's Prayer"

"Figaro" by Christel Lee
"Celebrate this Heartbeat" by Randy Stonehill"

The Message

Our "Be Happy Attitude" today is based on the incredible words of the 8th Beatitude of Jesus Christ, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:10)


Jesus Christ was prophetic when He proclaimed these words to the thousands of people on the lakeside hill of Galilee. This week is known as Holy Week in all Christendom, where believers around the world remember the persecution and passion of Jesus Christ. First there was the falling away of His popular opinion ... then came His arrest and mock trial. He was stripped ... He was flogged ... He was given a mock crown, one made of thorns which pierced into his head. Then Jesus Christ was crucified with thieves and He was buried.


He was "persecuted because of righteousness." I believe that Jesus led by example. He wants us to know that even when we are "righteous," when we do the right thing, we will not always be applauded, but will even be condemned by the public, yes, even friends.


February 9, 2001 was just another beautiful day in the paradise of Hawaii as Captain Scott Waddell commanded is submarine through the beautiful Pacific waters. It was a routine day with routine drills that his crew had done a million times before; nothing was out of the ordinary. They had a few guests on board who were civilians. When suddenly, as they made a rapid ascent to the surface, they hit a Japanese fishing vessel, which sank and killed nine young Japanese sailors. What a horrific tragedy! Commander Scott Waddell had to deal with the responsibility of this tragedy. The grief and the blame came from everywhere, Japan and America. It was overwhelming, but in spite of the recommendations of his attorneys and advisors, Commander Waddell decided he needed to do the right thing. He would take responsibility for the actions because the tragedy took place under his command. He decided he would apologize to them as best as he could. Today, in his book entitled, "The Right Thing," he shares his testimony and his incredible faith in God to help him through these incredible tough times.


Regardless of how good you are ... regardless of how hard you try to do the right thing ... there are times in your life where you are going to face persecution. It happens. Later in the same chapter following the Beatitudes, Jesus Christ, in the Sermon on the Mount tells us that: "The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike." (Matthew 5:45) Bad things happen ... they happen to everybody.


"A willingness to accept continuous action."


Now the word "persecuted" is an interesting word. In the Greek language the word "dioko," meaning "persecuted," is in a special tense. The Greek language has fifty different tenses. In the English vocabulary, we have only three tenses ... past, present and future. And so the tense, which is used here, is actually a passive perfect participle. To put it into English, it simply means a "willingness to accept a continuous action." And that is the tense that Jesus used in this Beatitude, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness..."


The Puritans defined "righteousness" as "ought-ness" ... that we "ought to do" ... or as Commander Scott Waddell said, "I must do the right thing."


"Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing the right thing (righteousness), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:10)


Jesus knew as He spoke these words, that He would face persecution. Each of the Gospel writers tells about the last events of the life of our Lord. Read their accounts of how on Palm Sunday Jesus entered Jerusalem with a loud "Hosanna" from the crowds, but immediately after Palm Sunday, He begins to experience His first persecution ... the swing of popular opinion against Him. Read how He is then arrested and His mock trial is held. He is flogged and a crown of thorns put on His head. He is stripped naked; His garments are auctioned off ... basically gambled away. He is paraded through the streets and mocked. Then Jesus Christ suffers the most horrific of all persecution, He is crucified, He hangs on a cross between two thieves until He dies.


Persecution comes in different forms and in different levels. Jesus experienced all of them from the least to the most horrific persecution one can ever experience.


 "Blessed are those who are persecuted ... theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:10)

Each of us, at one time or another, experience the least form of persecution, the falling away of popular opinion and criticism. My children would say that they are being "persecuted" when their friends criticize and put them down. They are both teens, of course, and as teens the popular opinion and the admiration of their peers is probably the most important thing in life. That is why they have to wear the right T-shirt. If it doesn't have the right label on it, the tide of popular opinion fades quickly. And, of course, the shoes ... you know ... they need to be the right brand of shoes. Not just any shoes will do. I try to take them to K-Mart and I say, "Here's a great pair of shoes, and they are only $9. They look identical to this pair of shoes that you want for $50. What's the difference?"


Money, a lot of money, but more than that, the one with $50 have a certain name on it. And they want that name so that they have that popular opinion. I teach them constantly that popular opinion comes and goes. If all you do is seek immediate popularity, you are only a follower. The leaders will never have immediate popularity, but they will have ultimate respect. And I teach them that they have to make decisions in life. The choice is immediate popularity or ultimate respect.


The persecution of Jesus began when the popular opinion swung against Him. Then His persecution became one of horrendous shame as He was arrested, tried like a criminal, and stripped naked.

There are those who have suffered in this same manner, treated so shamefully by other human beings. It is difficult to imagine what people have endured, and endure today, through such torture and abuse.

I remember as a young man listening to Corrie ten Boom, who came often to our home and she spoke here in church on numerous occasions. She delivered her unforgettable messages in what is our Arboretum today. (It was used as our worship center before the Cathedral was built.) I'll never forget the time when she was here and I had just graduated from college. Now that I was a seminary student, I was reading scripture in the morning worship service. This was in 1976. I have a photo that was taken with Corrie ten Boom, where my hair, in the picture is long, flowing al the way to my shoulders with a little flip on the end. (That's the truth).


I admired this older woman, a saint who had suffered so much. And I shall never forget how Corrie ten Boom shared with our congregation about her experiences in the Holocaust. Her family tried to save the Jews. As they would come through their town in The Netherlands, Corrie and her family would hide them. They were part of the underground that saved thousands of Jews. But ultimately Corrie's family was found out and they were captured. I remember how Corrie told about the most humiliating and the most horrendous thing for her in the entire Holocaust experience. She and the other women prisoners would be stripped naked, and forced to stand before the captors, not once, not twice, not three times, but many, many times. And Corrie said every single time it was worse. It was so humiliating, so degrading. She said, "Finally, it dawned on me that this happened to Jesus too, and if this could happen to Jesus, and Jesus is my example ... and now it is happening to me, then I am simply doing what Jesus did." And she said, "I know that Jesus gave me that thought and it gave me peace. It gave me comfort and I could bear the shame and cruel treatment."


When Jesus Christ gave us those words, "Blessed are those who are persecuted ..." "willingly accepting this continual action of tough times," and do it for righteousness ... then we receive the promise that "We will inherit the kingdom of God." Yes, then we will receive the special blessing of the presence of God. And we will know a peace that only comes from God.


Jesus experienced the persecution of the change of popular opinion, the persecution of the shame of being arrested and stripped naked, and then the persecution became violent as the beating and flogging began.


The name and face of Private Jessica Lynch has been on all the news this week. I think we need to applaud the young men and women who saved this incredible soldier of ours. It is amazing that so many people realize what is the right thing to do, then will take action to do it! Private Lynch would still be in the hospital if she wasn't dead by now, except for one Iraqi who went to visit his wife, a nurse, in the hospital. While he is in the hospital, he hears about this American, a captive, and he goes to look through her window and sees the Iraqi commander beating her. His heart breaks and he walks six miles ... six miles through war-infested roads, to get to our troops and tell them about Private Lynch. If that is not enough to risk his own life and the life of his family, he walks back through this war torn area again to get information, to become an inside spy, if you will, to save this woman. Then he walks back again and provides all the information to rescue her. Without his heroic action, she would still be there! He did the right thing!


"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:10)


Jesus was beaten and bruised as He was paraded through the streets. "The King of the Jews." They threw a purple robe on Him, as a joke. Then they took a crown of thorns and jammed it unto His head. There is no doubt, whatsoever, that the blood streamed down His face. It would be in His eyes, almost blinding Him. He would taste His own blood as it rolled over His lips. As they crucified Him they wanted everyone to know that there is no king of Israel ... there is no king of the Jews ... there is only one king and his name is Caesar.


But little did they know that you cannot rule by persecution. You cannot rule with fear. And Jesus rules instead with love of the highest dimension. Today, 2000 years later, we celebrate the victory of Jesus! He conquered the grave. Jesus Christ conquered death and He is alive! And so today we can conquer the persecutions that come our way.


Easter is coming! Death cannot prevail! Life prevails! Today we travel through the wilderness of living with its challenges, with its different kinds of persecution, and struggles. Yes, these are tough times. But we know that Jesus Christ is the greatest leader of all because He leads by example. He suffered. No one ever suffered more ... no one will ever suffer more. And so we know that we will get through. We will find the tremendous comfort and peace of His mercy in our lives.


Today make a stand for Jesus Christ.

Stand up and show that you are ready to accept His Holy Spirit of God to carry you through your challenging times.


Stand up for the conviction of truth!

Stand up for the reality of righteousness!

Stand up to receive your special blessing of peace from God.

Dear Jesus Christ, I stand up for You today. I stand up to receive Your blessing. I stand up to be able to take the incredible journey to everlasting life with You. I thank You, Lord, for the incredible power that You have given me to transform my life, to help me to see through persecution to the ultimate blessings. Continue to empower me, O Lord, with Your Holy Spirit and may I feel Your guidance no matter where I go, I pray. Amen.

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