Texts, NIV (1999): John 15.18-20; 11.16; Matthew 10.14; John 15.21-25, 27; Romans 8.16-19
Before we get started in this post, I would like to remind you of a couple of earlier ones.
We explore John 6 and the communion passage there. We’re dealing with the mystery of Body and Blood of Christ. It’s really an unanswered mystery, and that’s why there’s a falling out among His followers.
5,000 people are saved. The question is: is it a response to the miracle, or a response to the persecution taking place (the first of its kind for the Disciples)?
So first of all, we have Jesus facing adversity, the theme of the first post. In the second one, we see the Disciples face it as well.
Now we’re going to practically apply persecution to us.
First, we don’t really understand what persecution is in the West. We don’t see persecution in Western society (Europe and America) in the way that they do in other parts of the world now. So I enter into this cautiously.
Secondly, when I preached this sermon, I was not speaking to a specific problem in the congregation. I actually mention that near the end of the audio. I just want to point that out. There are times when I just apply things pastorally, and that’s what I was doing in that situation.
Video: On Persecution & Rejection
We need the fruit of love. We can always have more love, and that love bears fruit in persecution (see previous dialogue in John 15).
The fruit of love stands the test of persecution
John 15.18: “The World” is this spiritually dark place. John uses the term “world.” That’s one of his catch-phrases. He uses it very pointedly, not just the Earth, but the spiritually dark world that it has become. Whenever John uses the term “world,” it’s with a negative connotation.
This spiritually dark world hates Christ. Can we expect any different? Because of our connection with Him, the world hates us as well.
John 15.19: We don’t belong anymore. Has anyone felt like you don’t belong at your workplace, perhaps where you’ve worked for years? Has anyone grown up with cousins and friends in Sunday school? Then they make other decisions in their teenage years and early twenties, and you see a chasm expand between you and them in fellowship? Has anyone been rejected a little bit, or been at odds with the world?
John 15.20: Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
Jesus commands the Disciples to “remember” His teachings
The “servant” is no better than his “master,” no better than his lord. The word that he uses is “persecuted.” They literally chase after Christ.
In John 11, one of the reasons the Disciples are hesitant to go see Lazarus is because Jesus is facing persecution. Lazarus lived within a short distance (like a suburb) of Jerusalem. They are going into the fire and they are afraid for their lives. In fact, is is Thomas who says, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (John 11.16). They understand persecution.
They are suffering real persecution. The religious leaders have the power to take Christ’s life. At times the religious leaders try to arrest Jesus, but He slips away.
Persecution is a term that the American Church is not familiar with
Persecution occurs around the globe on a regular basis. Our situation seems minuscule in comparison to what the worldwide church faces. We may not face persecution in America, but we face rejection. We face rejection from society. We face rejection in our work places. Since Jesus is rejected, we are also tested through rejection.
ILD (Impact Leadership Development) has a Rejection Test (see note)
1) Through the rejection test, God watches our attitude
2) Through the rejection test, God watches our faithfulness
3) What about when it’s someone close, or on the same team (sinners vs. Christians)? Matthew 10.14: We don’t carry their rejection with us.
Because people persecute Christ, they will do so to His followers
They may reject us, but those who guard Christ’s words latch on to the words of His followers. True followers bear fruit and bear up under persecution, John 15.21-25.
We need to speak against human rejection!
We’re made in the image of God. If we’re faithful to work in the field that He has given us, if we’re faithful to the work of His house, then we certainly can speak against any form of rejection or criticism. Then we are bearing witness to Him (John 15.27) and with other Christians (Romans 8.16-19).
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* adapted from JVI, Glimpses of Jesus: Bring Forth Fruit, 01.24.16
note: ILD, “Character Development: Session 2,” in ILD Impact Leadership Development: Zone 1 (Joplin, MO: Impact PCG Student Ministries, 2008-2009), 8-13.