Jan 12, 2012

The Violent Take It By Force

Matthew 11:12 "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force."

The picture here is of a great multitude storming a city to lay hold of it's riches.

I firmly believe that Heaven will be populated by those we may not have expected.  Not the average, normal, nominal American Christian who are popular and soft and self-satisfied. I think we will see slews of the desperate, the tenacious, the determined, the zealous, the single-minded, and the steadfast.
Matthew Henry expounds on this verse in his commentary, stating, "They who would enter into the kingdom of heaven must strive to enter; that kingdom suffers a holy violence; self must be denied, the bent and bias, the frame and temper, of the mind must be altered; there are hard sufferings to be undergone, a force to be put upon the corrupt nature; we must run, and wrestle, and fight, and be in an agony, and all little enough to win such a prize, and to get over such opposition from without and from within."
Those who are good enough to suit themselves, those who are self-satisfied and full of their own righteousness will never see the inside of Heaven's gates. Neither will those who just don't care enough, or are unmotivated to put forth the effort to see the Kingdom of God advance. It is not those who sit back and watch from the sidelines that will lay hold of the Kingdom. It is those who fight day and night against their own self-will. It is those who wrestle with God for the treasures of the Kingdom like Jacob wrestling with the Angel all night for a blessing. These will lay hold of what they so earnestly desire.

Look at those in Christ's day who laid hold of the Kingdom:
The woman with the issue of blood, pushing through an anxious crowd to touch the hem of the Man she was forbidden by tradition from speaking to. The three ingenious men who lowered their sick friend through the roof to lay him at Jesus' feet because the crowd on the ground was too thick. The woman who braved scorn and ridicule to wash the Savior's feet with perfume and tears. Zaccheus, willing to lay down pride and public image to seize an opportunity to observe Christ closely.  The 120 in the Upper Room waiting and laboring in prayer for the promised Holy Spirit.
And who did not lay hold of the Kingdom: Those who felt like they didn't need it. Like the Pharisees, puffed with pride and self-righteousness, attempting to re-route the path to Heaven so only those as lofty as themselves could enter. Or those unwilling to make the sacrifice to gain it. Like the Rich Young Ruler, walking away from Jesus with his fortune intact, but forsaking what would have made his faith complete. Also, those who attempted to gain it the soft, easy way. Like Simon the Sorceror who would try to buy the treasures of the Kingdom rather than live the holy lifestyle that would allow him to access them for free.

We are used to soft American life. We love our ease and our comfort here in our pleasure-seeking and instant gratification lifestyles. Americans will go to church on Sundays...sometimes...but only the late service. We read the Bible if life gets rough, or say a prayer on a bad day. If asked, we'll admit to being Christian, but really, we prefer to keep that quite in case it could embarrass us.  But there is something in this comfort we are used to that is out of place in the life of a whole-hearted Christian. We have a hard time admitting that real Christianity requires effort and discipline. We forget that Paul admonished Timothy to "endure hardship as a good soldier."

I think we all face a point in our Christian walk where the rubber hits the road or we hit the road. We have to determine whether we will stand up or shut up, be a fence-walker or a fire-starter, live it up or live out loud, sleep in or press in, be a fop or a fighter. It is hard to do anything halfway...we tend to get burned out. In the life of a Christian you can be a name-only saint for so long. Pretty soon you either decide to live every moment for the cause of Christ, leaving every other venture and love behind, or decide it's not worth the sacrifice and leave true Christianity to someone a little more tenacious. Christianity is not something you put on - like a pair of shoes - it is something you become. It requires an over-haul and transformation in every part of your life.

The Kingdom of Heaven is forcefully advancing, and those who are forceful in spirit will lay hold of it!


unknownwellknown said...

I think you are on to something here. I enjoyed reading your post.


Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for reading @unknownwellknown! :)

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