Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10 NIV
The bookends to the Beatitudes are the poor in spirit and those who are persecuted for their righteousness. Both of them are promised the kingdom of heaven. For me, these verses are a reality check. Following Christ isn’t fun and games. It’s going to involve looking into the darkness of my heart and experiencing the darkness of other people’s hearts.
We don't like to think about persecution when we think about being Christians, but that persecution is very real in many parts of the world. Some people are imprisoned, others are killed or experience violence. In Canada, the persecution is more subtle. It usually involves mockery, snubbing, relationship conflict, or job loss. There are definitely costs to walking the narrow way.
But the good news is that God promises the kingdom of heaven, his kingdom, his presence, his eternal love to those who do follow him.
Finite pain – infinite gain.