Do the Right Thing
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you on my account. (Matthew 5:11)
I had a classmate in school who was really smart. She often earned the highest grades on tests and quizzes. Teachers would use her work as examples of how the rest of the class should do our work. And she was often picked on for being "the teacher's pet."
I would like to think that I did not join in the teasing - I don't remember joining in but that could just be the convenience of selective memory. At the same time, I do remember that I did not defend her, either. I didn't stand up to my classmates when they teased her or picked on her. I didn't go out of my way to befriend her or comfort her. Why? Because I was afraid that if I did, I would be the next target of their attacks. I did not want to be persecuted like she was.
It can be hard to stand up for what is right, especially when right is unpopular, even for adults. We want to fit in. We want the approval of our peers. We want others to like us. Being that voice crying out in the wilderness can put all that in jeopardy.
The early church Matthew was writing for likely encountered strong resistance. The Jewish community rejected the notion that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. The Romans were distrustful of this upstart sect. And the early Christians (not that they were known by that name yet) had some funny and unpopular ideas about how people should treat one another, like turning the other cheek, and helping strangers, and welcoming outcasts. No doubt people around them were uttering all kinds of evil against them on account of Jesus.
It has been said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. If we truly want to live in the beloved community of God, what is necessary is that we speak out for those who have no voice, and fight against injustice anywhere, and stand up to the bullies of the world who can only build themselves up by tearing others down.
Being popular is not as important to me today as it was when I was younger, but I still do not relish being reviled and persecuted. However, in those moments when I have screwed up my courage to do the right thing, I have come to know what it means to be blessed. May God grant us the courage we need to always be on Jesus' side that all world may be blessed.