In a religion of peace, there is one place that God has called Christians to be violent. Before you stop reading thinking I am some kind of wacko-weird guy, let me splain. In the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.” (Matthew 11:12, NIV)
This seems like such a strange Scripture at first, but when we begin to look at it as part of the whole message of Christianity, it does make sense. The Kingdom of Heaven is something mentioned a lot in the Scriptures. Preachers talk about it. People in the pews talk about it. It’s in the songs we listen to on Christian radio. But what does it mean?
A Kingdom is a people. It is a society. It is a civilization. Heaven is referred to as a Kingdom. In Heaven, there is a civilization that continues for eternity. Jesus is the King and His laws reign in the heart of every citizen. We know the laws of God are founded on the principles of loving God and loving others. When every citizen in Heaven loves like Christ, Heaven becomes a place of absolute love. Not only do the citizens love one another, but we will also be in the presence of God. God is absolute love. In Heaven, we will enjoy the benefits of living in the presence of God, the Provider and Giver of everything good. And we will enjoy the benefits of living in a society where love reigns, love to God and love to one another. What a place!
In the Old Testament, we see the Kingdom of Israel being established after 400 years of enslavement to the Egyptians. The Lord intends to establish a new nation, Israel, in Canaan. It was a land flowing with milk and honey and everything good. It was an earthly portrait of a Heavenly scene. There was not to be an Earthly King. God was to be King. It was only the failings of the people who led them to desire an earthly king, but this was never God’s plan. He was to be the King of Israel. The only problem with this new nation being established were all of the other nations already living in the Promised Land. The Kingdom of God on Earth could only be established after conquering the enemies of God and the enemies of Israel. God had already promised them this land, but they had to go and take it by war. Ah-ha! Now it is starting to make sense!
The Lord who loves us and desires that we love Him has given us a choice while we are here on this Earth. Heaven is eternity for all who have chosen Him during their time on Earth. If God did not give us the opportunity to choose Him, but instead forced us to love Him, it would not be a true love affair. To give us a choice, He has allowed Satan to continue to roam and have dominion here on this Earth for this time. Satan has already been judged and has been sentenced to an eternal death sentence, but for now, that we might have a choice, the Lord has given him dominion in this Earth. In the New Testament, Satan is referred to as the god of this age.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (NIV)
2 Corinthians 4:4
This also means that when someone becomes a Christian, they are automatically a soldier behind enemy lines. We are roaming around in the enemy’s camp. The Devil comes at us like a detachment of soldiers would come after an enemy found hiding within the barracks. You may not want to fight, but you are in the fight whether you like it or not.
At the same time, Jesus taught us to pray by saying, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matthew 6:10). Every time we quote the Lord’s prayer, we are praying for the Kingdom of God to advance upon this Earth. It is a war and one Kingdom is advancing against the other. It is easy to see the two kingdoms. Everything that is ungodly is exalted in our culture and everything that is holy is demolished. Everything our Creator gave to us from Heaven is being perverted and used as an abomination. Sex-perverted. Music-perverted. Religion-perverted. Marriage-perverted. Our culture is not running to God. It is running to the things of the flesh. This is the Kingdom of Satan on Earth. We are the army of God advancing forcefully to take back what the enemy stole right out of the Garden of Eden.
How can one kingdom invade and defeat another kingdom? This requires great force. It requires violence. Hey…hey. I heard that. We don’t need any of those kinds of comments. No, I am not saying that Christians should go around knocking the heads of those not following Christ. It is not that kind of violence. But it is the kind of violence that forcefully and aggressively applies the weapons of war issued to us as soldiers of the Kingdom of Heaven. We should engage in violent prayer. We should pray with the same intensity of a soldier in hand to hand combat. We should worship violently with the same devotion as a patriot fighting for his cause.
In Ephesians, we are given a list of weapons to fight with, but before we go into these, let me leave you with one question. Are you fighting? Are you advancing the Kingdom of Heaven? Where there is discord, are you aggressively applying reconciliation? Where there is sin, are you forcefully applying forgiveness and holiness? Where there is despair, are you bringing with great intensity, hope? Where souls are lost, are you forcefully advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
You might be thinking to yourself that you don’t want to be one of those crazy Bible-thumpers who never stops talking about Jesus. Well, we can certainly see that every battle needs a strategy and sometimes Bible-thumping is the best weapon of choice and other times a quiet grace is the way to go. The weapons will change with every battle and the strategy will change over time. The one thing that is certain is that every Christian is standing on the battlefield and the enemy is coming against you with all he has, even in this moment. Either you will be destroyed or you will accomplish the mission assigned-advancing the Kingdom of Heaven
Go ahead. Pick up your sword and shield and let’s take this place in the name of our King…the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the One True God, Jesus Christ.