Luke 6:22 – [22] “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! [23] Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

Jesus says that those who are hated and excluded and reviled are “blessed”. They have a deep happiness that not even those events that have assaulted them can erase. They are in a state of such happiness because their suffering is the direct result of serving and believing in Jesus Christ. There is no great blessing to being poor or hated or excluded. But when those things happen because of our relationship with Jesus Christ there is a special blessing from God upon us because of it.

This may be what the Apostle Paul was getting at in Colossians 1:24 when he said “I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions …” When we suffer Jesus Christ Himself suffers. Jesus said to Paul on the Road to Damascus, “Why do you persecute me?” When the church of Jesus Christ is persecuted and tormented and opposed and denied the necessities of life – so is the eternal Son of God. Jesus warned us that since the world hated Him it would hate those who followed Him (John 15:18).

But we should remember that the opposition the children of God receive is directly related to faithfulness to Christ. The world is full of suffering. One does not need to be a believer in Jesus Christ to know persecution, hatred, injustice etc. The special blessing Jesus refers to here is the blessing that comes as a direct result of faithfulness to Christ.

Peter warns those he writes that if they are going to suffer they should make sure it is not because they deserve to (I Peter 4:14-15). If they suffer it should not be because they are murderers, or thieves, evildoers or meddlers. Such people deserve to suffer and if you do such things you deserve to suffer too. So, what kind of suffering is it that should make us rejoice? Suffering that is unjust, undeserved and for the cause of the Gospel at work in and through us.

But this is the exact opposite of how we think. If we do wrong and get caught we generally understand that we are getting what we deserve and so we do not complain. But if we suffer unjustly then we get angry. We threaten law suits, human rights tribunals and complain about how unfair people are behaving. Got fired because you refused to skip church to go to work? Sue. Got in trouble at work because your honesty with the auditors got the accountant in trouble? Take revenge. This is the exact opposite of what Peter says our reaction should be. It is unjust suffering for the sake of Christ that should cause us to rejoice. It should result in us glorifying God (I Peter 4:16). To be opposed and insulted and reviled is part of our calling. And our response is to bless those who hurt us.