In the most famous and longest of Jesus’ sermons he describes the characteristics of his followers. Humble, meek, merciful – there are number of them in what is referred to as the Beatitudes. But, perhaps the most confusing is when Jesus says in Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
And you might be thinking, what kind of kingdom celebrates persecution? Isn’t that why Jesus died on the cross? But, it’s actually not persecution that’s being celebrated, it's righteousness.
You don’t need to go looking for some sort of opposition and try to hold your ground. That doesn’t make you his follower. What makes you a follower of Jesus is to live like him. That’s what it means to be righteous. What Jesus is saying is that when you live as he did, you will face persecution.
Do you remember when the apostles were starting the early church and they got sent to prison? They weren’t going around looking to pick fights. The high priest came to them and put them behind bars. Then, afterwards they rejoiced because they had been counted worthy to go through that.
So, focus on righteousness, focus on living like Jesus, and know what comes next.