It was a year ago this past Sunday that our church started the first of seven livestream only services, including Resurrection Sunday. As a church we initially accepted what we were told, trusting the message about the severity of the virus as well as the timeframe for the lockdown: fifteen days to flatten the curve. We have learned a lot since then, not just about COVID but about the many faces of soft-(and scientific sounding)-tyranny.
A couple weeks ago at our Life to Life group we discussed the past year. A couple men mentioned that they sort of wished that we, as Christians, not just at TEC but including us, would have been both more unified and more attacked. As a church we’ve tried to avoid being obnoxious, and who knows all the ways we’ve been protected. But again, some of the guys wished that we’d been more obviously hated.
A few things:
First, we’re not done, there is still plenty of time.
Second, at heart this is a good longing.
Blessed are you when others revile 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 5:11-12).
Being jealous for the blessing is appropriate. Being pour in spirit, mourning for sin, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, these are things that are more up to us. But being persecuted, and receiving the blessing that comes with it, requires outside hatred.
Third, now is a good time to get ready for not just the blessings, but the pains. It’s a less good time to talk about the sovereignty of God for the first time right after your friend’s cancer diagnosis, and it’s a less good time to talk about rejoicing and reward for being reviled once the attack bots on Twitter are released.
We are to “rejoice and be glad.” We will respond that way when we mourn our own sins first, when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, when we are pure in heart, when we make as much peace as possible. We will respond that way when we see ourselves in the long line of God’s people (as in the prophets) and when we see that we are promised great reward in heaven for worshiping the Son.