As we seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness this week, let us read a passage from Psalm 119 each day:
1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
3 they do no wrong
but follow his ways.
4 You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
6 Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
8 I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The kingdom of God is a place where righteousness reigns in its fullness. In other words, things are as they should be in the Kingdom of God. The Hebrew people refer to this as Shalom. Shalom is a deep term that we don't have a good word for in English. It communicates the state of existence in which everything is working together in harmony - the state of life in which everything is made right through God's reign. It is justice, mercy, and faithfulness in their fullness. It is what most Christians imagine heaven to be like.
This beatitude is about those who are defeated, harassed, and persecuted because they operate with justice, mercy, and faithfulness in a world that does not usually operate that way.
I think that's why Jesus says that the kingdom belongs to those who are persecuted because of righteousness. Those who are persecuted for righteousness are the ones who already belong in the Kingdom of God because they bring shalom into the lives of their friends and their enemies...no matter what it costs them.
What does it look like for you to bring the justice, mercy, and faithfulness of God into the world around you this week?