The last of the beatitudes from Matthew 5, as explored in theGODlab:
Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
From the first reading of this, we perhaps think that persecution is something to be avoided, and that persecution is something done to us, not something we choose to do to ourselves – not something we can ‘try out’ as an experiment. Also, Jesus isn’t blessing the persecuted here, he is blessing those persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Here, Jesus is saying of the persecuted, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is placing the kingdom of heaven in the hands of the people who are so committed to a better world that they’re prepared to suffer for it. Heaven hovers over those who are willing to endure criticism, accusation, violence – persecution in whatever form it comes – for the sake of remaining true to what is good.
The beatitudes, as we have read them have progressed from something as ‘easy’ as being open to God, to this – being willing to be persecuted for the sake of his kingdom. This final beatitude, perhaps amounts to the word chosen to represent it – commit. Are you willing to take seriously the news Jesus came to spread? To give yourselves to God?
The final experiment is difficult to state, as it very much depends on where you are on your journey with God at the beginning of these experiments, and it also very much depends on what impact these experiments has had on you over the past weeks. But wherever you are, the experiment is asking for some degree of commitment to whatever God has revealed to us, to you. And it is up to you, therefore, to decide if through these experiments, or through other means, you have encountered something of God: a moment of revelation, a ‘God-coincidence‘, a restored relationship, some supernatural occurrence, dream or encounter:
•Spot what your commitment is:
What would you be able to stand by?
To testify to? I'm prepared to say I've searched for God and I've
encountered him ... when I tried ... this,
or when I asked for ... that. Or Maybe it is that you want to
commit to being more curious about God.
•state your commitment:
Find some time alone with God to tell him what your commitment is.
It doesn't have to wordy - just tell God in your own words.
•Mark your commitment:
In previous times people might have built an altar. You could
try that, or you might want to do something on a lesser scale.
Write a journal, or a poem, draw a picture, buy some jewellery
or an ornament to represent the commitment, whatever can stand
as a reminder of your experience of God.
•Share your commitment:
If you can, tell somebody about it - in explaining your thoughts
it will help you become clearer about what those thoughts are.
•Watch your commitment:
It can take time for things to happen, but watch and keep
a look out for what God sends your way as a result of having
taken a small but significant step in his direction.
Through these experiments I hope you have found something of God. Hopefully it is a bit like the parable Jesus told. Amongst the bric-a-brac of life, you have found a pearl of priceless worth. And on finding it you are willing to go and sell everything you have in order to buy it.
These posts have very much been short tasters from Roger Brotherton’s book, theGODlab – ISBN 978-1-907080-24-1, available from amazon uk (and probably other places too), and I encourage you read it, if you haven’t already done so.