As we see violence increasing around us and people being beaten for opposing viewpoints, it is good to know that Jesus prepared us in saying that the Kingdom suffers violence and the violent take it by force. (Matt 11:12) When I first heard this as a kid I foolishly thought it meant something about how we spiritually/violently promulgate the gospel or something. I didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about. I think part of my misunderstanding was that I live in America, I didn’t understated having to count any cost really. I know that America has conveniently, and I am thankful for this, but it has stayed off some of that cost. We had communities with low-cost of entry into the Kingdom. Is was a good thing to be a Christian, it was a safe thing to be a Christian, it was a virtuous thing to be a Christians, it had an air of respect about it, but times are changing. Recently the rates have sky rocketed!
It is costly. This is why Jesus teaches us to count the cost. (Matt 7:13-14, Luke 9:23, 14:26-33) But Jesus says this statement in the context of speaking about John the Baptist. He was the victim of violence against the Kingdom of God. Jesus is giving the principle that violence will come against the kingdom. But thankfully he also teaches that the enemy will not triumph over the kingdom neither will the gates of hell prevail over the church. (Mathew 16:18)
But it does mean there will be casualties.
It now costs you intellectual currency to be a follower of God. So we cave on the creation narrative. It now costs you political currency to be a follower of God, so we cave on polity. It now costs you relational currency to be a follower of God so we cave on morals. It now costs you social currency to be a follower of God, so we cave on the fidelity of the Word of God. It is starting to cost you actual currency as well, so some have caved on standing in faith. Businesses are starting to demand acquiescence, the government is starting to demand acquiescence, and many are caving because they do not want to be outcasts. But many are not, many are standing having counted the cost.
The one that hurts the most is this though: It now costs you being loving. People are moving Christian thought and orthodoxy into the arenas of hate. This hurts because our message is actual love. It is an effective way to silence us, but only for those who haven’t counted the cost. Christians are being viewed as dangerous radicals because our views on sex and morality while actual radicals are being welcomed.
Sadly some have bought the line that it is merely a political position that is the problem and in time we will be shown to be on the wrong side of history. Well the truth is that this position is simply one in a long line that ends with God being eradicated from society as he is in China. Understand that if we can be deemed bigots then the word of God can be curbed by the label of hate speech, if you don’t see the early stages of this happening then you have more hope in the systems of man than I do. Paul and Jesus said it clearly
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
(2 Tim 3:12)
24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. 25 If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. (Mathew 10)
So we learn that those of us in the kingdom suffer this violence but, we do not act in it. Acting in violence is not sacrifice. Suffering violence may very well be, as Jesus modeled he suffered violence and the violent took from him in force, but the kingdom still stands. The fact that this is happening reveals Jesus words to be true. There are violent forces out there opposed to his kingdom, political, social. Violent factions of Islam terrorize the world but are still given the benefit of the doubt while Christians are labeled the most dangerous term America can label which is bigot.
In a free society only the “hateful” can have their rights suppressed.
This is the rub, am I willing to pay that? It may end in martyrdom as it did for John the Baptist and Jesus and pretty much all of the disciples. Martyrdom however, is not killing and hurting others, that is the opposite of sacrifice. Islamic jihad is not martyrdom, it is not offering yourself for the better of others, it is taking for the purpose of gain. It is entirely about gain, and it is entirely not from God.
The kingdom suffers violence. We suffer it because we know that our redeemer lives. I think we have finally come to a point history where the American church can learn to apply those parts of the sermon on the mount that we thought were for the disciples and you know other countries.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets…
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets. 27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6)
That time is here, these lessons are now, the application is sure. That is the cost, the kingdom will suffer violence. Are we still interested in signing up? Pray.