“How blest you are, when you suffer insults and persecution and every kind of calumny for My sake. Accept it with gladness and exultation, for you have a rich reward in heaven; in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.”
Jesus isn’t saying that we should provoke unbelievers into persecuting us. We are not to seek “every kind of calumny” but to “accept it with gladness and exultation” when it comes our way, as it is bound to now and again. Most of the time the insults prove to be remarks against our God and Savior not against us. Unbelievers usually think Christians are stupid, naive, or at our worst — narrow minded.
More likely Jesus is saying that a natural outcome of being a Christian is insult and persecution because: we are salt; salt stings the wounds. We are light; light exposes the dark. No one enjoys pain; no one who remains in sin wants to come into the light and be exposed. Therefore, a natural consequence of living for Christ is suffering abuse from those who do not believe. Accept it, but don’t deliberately seek it. Jesus says that is unnecessary for “in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.”
Suffering for Christ is most evident in countries like China, where Christians are actively abused. These Christians “have a rich reward in heaven.” Those of us who will never suffer this kind of “calumny” must pray for those Christians who do. We must remember that they are blessed beyond our understanding. They are truly salt and light.