THE SERVANT GENERAL
“the kingdom of heaven suffers violence,
and the violent are taking it by force.”
the start of Jesus’ public ministry, he began to preach
and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
(Mt 4:17b). It was a call to a radical change in the way people
lived their lives, in order to make it to the kingdom of God.
And the requirement for making it was holiness and righteousness.
Jesus emphasized to them that “unless your righteousness
surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not
enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:20).
Responding to Jesus’ call
Certainly such holiness would not just happen. People needed
to work at it. Not in the sense of earning it, but in the
sense of giving their all in their desire to be holy. As the
writer of Hebrews put it, “Strive …. for that
holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb
12:14). Strive for it, aim for it, desire it, put your all
many Christians are not doing this. Many are not actively
striving for holiness and thus entry into the kingdom. Many
are not single-minded, dogged, determined. Because of this,
they endanger their own entry into the kingdom. They endanger
their birthright to the kingdom which Jesus came to give to
fact, so intense should be our desire to enter the kingdom
that the Bible paints a scenario of people forcing their way
in! The Bible says that “the kingdom of heaven suffers
violence, and the violent are taking it by force” (Mt
11:12), and that “everyone who enters does so with violence”
(Lk 16:16b). The kingdom of God belongs to those who would
take it by force and violence!
two verses are highly enigmatic. What do they mean?
First of all, the Bible is not condoning violence in the way
we normally understand violence, which is the inflicting of
injury or damage by rough or abusive treatment. Thus God says,
“Put away violence and oppression, and do what is right
and just!” (Ez 45:9b). But there are other definitions
of being “violent.” A look at the dictionary will
reveal the following meanings:
from or marked by great physical force;
intense emotional or mental excitement;
by intensity of any kind;
Thus, what the Bible is speaking of is a kind of determination,
intensity, zeal, doggedness, passion, which should characterize
our pursuit of holiness and the kingdom. It is a measure of
the extent of the effort we put into it, an extent comparable
to warriors storming a city during a siege. It is a measure
of the extent to which a man who is desperate would go to,
being determined to achieve his purpose no matter what and
allowing nothing to stand in the way.
one simply drifts into the kingdom. No one makes it to heaven
in first-class comfort.
must we do in order to make it to the kingdom?
We need to become “violent” Christians! How?
we need to do violence to ourselves, that is, we need to strive
to be holy. To grow in holiness necessitates doing violence
to ourselves, that is, we need to strip ourselves of anything
which will hinder us from being holy. Jesus gave us this radical
“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It
is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two
hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And
if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better
for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to
be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin,
pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of
God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna”
that is not meant to be taken literally. Otherwise, there
should be a lot of maimed Christians in the world today. What
Jesus does say to us is the necessity of a radical response
to his call to live a godly life. Nothing in life, even those
that are so important to us and so intimately a part of us,
should become stumbling blocks to our making it to God’s
understood the call very well, and he was uncompromising in
his direction, “Put to death, then, the parts of you
that are earthly” (Col 3:5a)
to ourselves in order to become holy is a matter of life and
death for us. It is our choice. “For if you live according
to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to
death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom 8:13).
Passion for God and His kingdom
Second, we need to be violent in our relationship with God.
Considering that prayer is our primary means of entering into
an intimate personal relationship with God, to be violent
means to persevere in prayer. Prayer is the way by which God
can teach us and form us in His holy ways. We have to be determined
and single-minded in protecting our daily quiet time with
prayer should be done with the persistence and intensity of
the widow seeking her rights before the corrupt judge, who
finally decided to settle in her favor for fear that she would
do him violence (Lk 18:1-5). After telling this parable to
his listeners, Jesus draws out his point, that God too will
listen to and act favorably and quickly on the petitions of
those who call out to Him day and night (Lk 18:6-7).
is the foundation of our relationship with God, and the key
to our growing in holiness.
we need to do violence to Satan’s dominion. Since God’s
call is a corporate one, we want not only to make it to heaven
ourselves, but also to bring as many people as we can with
us. This therefore means that we must evangelize aggressively.
We are at war! We are to storm Satan’s strongholds in
order to liberate men and women enslaved by him.
The Christian’s call
This then is our life as a Christian. We are to grow in personal
holiness, being intimately connected with God, so that we
may serve him as co-workers in bringing in a harvest of souls.
are not called to a relaxed, complacent, comfortable Christianity.
We are called to a radical one, where “violence”
is the key to entering the kingdom of God.
* * *
This article is taken from the book Focused on Christ, chapter
12. As being centered on Christ is our first and most important
core value, you are encouraged to read this book. It has discussion
questions and starters that can be used for household meetings
download file, click on icon