Read Matthew 23:29-36
v 34. “Therefore, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers of religious law. But you will kill some by crucifixion, and you will flog others with whips in your synagogues, chasing them from city to city.
So rarely does Jesus come across strong that passages like this seem out of character for Him. Yet he is responding to the very worst kind of persecution, for it comes from the most ‘religious’ of people who should have been supporting Him. Some translations use the words ‘Woe to you’ but here we find it given as ‘What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! ‘ (v 29), words which convey more forcefully the strength of Jesus’ feelings about these leaders.
The very worst kind of persecution comes from those who are, or should be, nearest to us. In ages past, Christians have persecuted fellow believers over minor differences of doctrine and practice, and even now Christian denominations can stand aloof from one another and harshly criticise each other, making life difficult for one another. We have to learn to put aside anything that causes pain between believers, whether it be negative criticism, judgmental attitudes, or failures to love one another and cooperate in the life of following Jesus.
You might not count some of these things as persecution, but any deliberate action that belittles a fellow-Christian, or makes life unnecessarily difficult for one, is hurtful and so damages the spiritual life and walk of a sister or brother in Christ. And I count that as persecution.