“Blessed are they that persecuted for the sake of righteousness
for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”
Oppression, victimization,mistreatment,abuse,discrimination………. all synonyms for persecution. Heavy stuff. Last night while I was at home, after a nice hot bath, clean pj’s, a nice cup of tea, I settled in to watch the movie “The Help”. I had read the book a couple of times. When I read a book, I form images in my mind of what the characters look like, their mannerisms and the setting they are in. That is one of the joys of reading for me, but I digress.
As I was watching the movie, there were times when the tears came and I was so convicted. I came to the realization of how people of “color” “African Americans”, “black” people were so mistreated and discriminated against, abused, victimized, oppressed all the synonyms for persecution. It was not that long ago, the 60’s, when this persecution was happening. The mind set that black PEOPLE were not people at all, but items to “own”. I am sure that the mind set of racism still goes on, that many people still feel the same way. It makes me sick.
That got me to thinking of all the ways we can persecute. As a society, we are called to be cohesive and in harmony & peace with each other. Ideally accepting and loving. There are many subtle ways we persecute each other. Can we say that we always feel that all people are created equal. Do we have a sense of being better than, lets say the man who stands at the intersection with a sign that says… :”will work for food” are we empathetic to his plight, or do we give a few dollars with the underlying thought that he will probably use the money to buy drugs or alcohol. I have thought that before, but was convicted by my beliefs that I am not to judge and to give to others without expectation.
All people deserve to live their lives as they will, as long as it does not cause others harm. It is funny how as I wrote the last sentence, it came to mind that some people choose to cast judgment on others, because they disagree with how they either are or what they believe in. Persecution…..
God made us to be individuals with free will. I believe that God set out commandments for us to live by. 10 simple rules. For those who do not believe in God, ~ Atheists have beliefs that I am not that familiar with, However, an article I read in the Huffington Post, about Atheist “churches” that are springing up more and more in the United States. It states~~They don’t bash believers of God, but want to find a new way to meet like-minded people, engage in the community and make their presence more visible in a landscape dominated by faith. And why not. Again…. the free will part. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs….. everyone.
As I have always told my children, who grew up Catholic on their dads side…. and with me( a recovering Catholic, who believes the tenants of the faith, just not the religiosity and legalism of the Catholic faith) as they got older, I encouraged them to find their own beliefs. My oldest son is raising his family in the Catholic faith, church on Sunday, no meat on Fridays during lent, first communion and confession all the legalism of organized religion. My daughter believes the Buddhist tenants are for her. My youngest does not attend any church at all. As they were growing up, they attended the Catholic mass with their dad. When with me, I gave them the choice of going to church or not. When they went with me, they found a charismatic church that was very different in style of the mass but basically had the same message.
I do not know how I could live my life without my beliefs in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I believe with all my heart. I also believe in free will and choices. “Christianity” is my belief system. I go to a church that is non-denominational. It is a new church. No building yet, so we meet at the local movie theater. We have an awesome worship team and a pastor who is in essence very real, down to earth, & practical. I invite friends to attend and a few have and they have really enjoyed it and attended again.
The point I am trying to make is about the persecution of anyone. We have all been persecuted in some way. The judgment of others is a persecution of you. The person that forces you to believe what they believe is a persecution of the others free will to choose. As a Christian, I am called to spread the good news, that Jesus died for me and I will live again after death, if I believe. I am not an evangelist, I do not hand out tracts to people on the street, I do not wear a sign saying “Repent the end is near!!” I do try to live a life that is non judgmental (it is not my job to judge), a life that reflects love, charity, generosity, good will, kindness and open mindedness to others. To love others as God has loved me. That is my evangelism to others.
Persecution is when someone is oppresses another, abuses another, mistreats another, discriminates another……. We are all called to abolish persecution. ~~be kind one to another. Respect each other. Live in harmony with each other. That is a start.
I believe that at this time and on this earth………….. we will not see persecution abolished ~~ but in the next life….. those who have been persecuted will get their just reward. (and theirs is the kingdom of heaven).