How do we react to persecution? Do we recognize persecution in our daily lives?
9 The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead.10 But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus.
In Christian circles, the word “persecution” is a common term. What exactly does it mean, though, and how does it apply to us? The common definition for persecuting is: “to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, especially because of religion, race, or beliefs; harass persistently.” We tend to bear persecution as a badge of honor, and rightly so because it helps us identify with Jesus.
We see here the first time, however, that the religious zealots want to kill someone other than Jesus. Why? Because of his testimony to the Jews. There goes another “church word.” Testimony:
1.the statement or declaration of a witness under oath or affirmation, usually in court.
2.evidence in support of a fact or statement; proof.
3.open declaration or profession, as of faith.
4.Usually, testimonies. the precepts of God.”
We must not forget the whole purpose of the story of Lazarus. I know we took some time going through it but let’s remember what Jesus said in the beginning, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” We remember that while the story involves a physical death and resurrection, it was a picture of a spiritual death and resurrection. Because of this, many were believing in Christ, as a result of the testimony of Lazarus.
Similarly, our own story of death and resurrection is purposed to accomplish the same thing. As we begin living the resurrected life, others will notice a difference and question why. We must be aware, however, that this will draw the ire of others. Regardless of why they persecute us, the fact that they are is an indication that we are doing the right thing. The fact that we have opposition means that we are in the right direction.
So what then do we do? We keep on going! Many times we may not even recognize that this is what is happening, that we are being persecuted. Sometimes it just seems like our friends and families don’t agree with us. Sometimes it feels like our lives have just become burdened with troubles. We must see that we are in a spiritual war. It is not just people in our lives that will come against us, but anything in this world will try to oppose us and slow us down or deter us from the purpose God has called us to.
Paul told Timothy that persecution will come in the third chapter of his second letter: “12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
For some interesting and inspiring stories that will dwarf our own experiences of persecution and trouble, check out persecution.com.