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The kingdom of God suffers violence

Consider this. In the last couple of days: World Racer Sarah Lapp got word while in Africa that her mother had suddenly contracted an aggressive cancer – she had to be put on the next plane home. World Racer Christine Chapman’s pregnant sister was tragically killed b…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Consider this. In the
last couple of days:

  • World Racer Sarah Lapp
    got word while in Africa that her mother had suddenly contracted an
    aggressive cancer – she had to be put on the next plane home.
  • World Racer Christine
    pregnant sister was tragically killed by a drunk driver.
  • World Race coach Michael Hindes came down
    with an extremely painful case of kidney stones just prior to his departure
    to debrief our team in Peru. He flew there anyway. Arriving in Peru, he didn’t connect with his contact, Bob Cooley, because Bob had been hit with a case of kidney stones too.
  • A key AIM staff person
    just made a terrible mistake jeopardizing 15 years of ministry.
    Unfortunately, when leaders make mistakes, it impacts so many others. Another leader is flying there at 6:40 a.m. this morning.
  • My brother-in-arms Gary Black and his family is being kicked out of Swaziland because of visa complications, leaving us understaffed to care for a thousand orphans.

It’s past midnight as I type these words and my spirit is
still digesting what all this means.

There is this provocative passage in the gospel of Luke
where in one version* Jesus, talking to his disciples about John the Baptist
says, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and violent men take it by
force.” To which I say – what does that mean?**

But in my life, I can relate to violence striking at those
in my sphere of influence. Whether it’s
just random stuff happening, or whether it’s really people within the kingdom
of God who are being targeted in a particular way, people I know are suffering

To be human is to encounter pain. We come into the world screaming, recoiling
against it, and many of us will leave the world fighting it. And in between, God’s enemy, who hates his
creation, will do everything in his power to bring violence our way. He has targeted us for pain. If we are a threat to the existing order (in which he exercises control), then we have a bullseye painted on our back.

The good news is, we don’t have to go whimpering into the
night. We are more than conquerors.
Somehow, in God’s economy, we’re called to resist the enemy of our souls and
fight back – to get some violence in our spirit.

My mentor Andrew
calls it “getting a spirit of violence.” We need to get angry and shout a bit at the
forces of hell. Do a gut check and if
you have difficulty fighting the accuser of the brethren, this would probably
be a good day to make the following declaration, serving notice to the one who
wants to wreck your life:

“Look, hell, you
may have taken my loved one away. You
may have robbed me of something I held dear.
You may have marked me for destruction, but I sure as heck (go ahead and say “hell” if you’re feeling particularly righteous) am not going to sit here and take it! I am going to fight you for what God has
given me. Society may place a premium on
being nice and looking proper, but I don’t have any more room in my life for
nice! I will fight you tooth and nail for what is mine, and furthermore, now
that you’ve riled me up, I will exact a price for this. Where I’ve been complacent, I will start
putting on the Ephesians 6 armor. Where
I’ve been passive, I will start praying warfare prayers. Instead of sleeping in, I’m going to start
getting up early and praising God. I’ve
had it – I’m not going to sit still any longer! I know there’s a warrior’s spirit in me somewhere, and I intend to summon it up!”

This is not a prayer so much as it is a jolt of spiritual caffeine for your sleepy spiritual self that needs to be slapped into a state wakefulness. And when you’re awake, start living in a way that truly does violence to
the enemy camp. This is not weird or overly dramatic behavior – this is you waking up to your identity and to spiritual reality. It’s what normal Jesus followers struggling to navigate in this cynical world do.

And after you’re done declaring and praying and snorting or whatever, here’s how you continue the fight: Apologize to a few
people you’ve offended. Hold an orphan,
or sponsor one at least. Go visit some
widows in a senior citizen’s home. Write
a blog that tries to rile people up like this one. Turn off the TV. For God’s sake and for your own, do something!

Continued in: …And the violent take it by force

*NASB (Matt. 11:12)

**I used to think I knew. There’s another version that renders it differently:
“the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing…” I like that better. Maybe
it was the macho rebel in me, like Peter, spoiling for a fight.

Comments (20)

  • Your blogs are often encouraging and challenging. I know this isn’t as eloquent or brilliant, but I’m fighting with you! He is our victorious warrior, and will fight too.

  • I’ll be lifting you guys up. As a friend of mine once said, the enemy attacks hardest when great things are happening. Keep pressing on and fighting the good fight.

  • Satan’s a punk! I love what you wrote about getting feisty…I feel like I just walked out of a Rocky movie…if you know what I mean.

  • Here’s some scripture that someone posted on my blog:

    2 Co 6:4-10 But as God’s servants, we have commended ourselves in every way, with great endurance, in persecutions, in difficulties, in distresses,in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots,in troubles,in sleepless nights, in hunger,by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by benevolence, by the Holy Spirit,by genuine love, by truthful teaching, by the power of God, with weapons of righteousness both for the right hand and for the left,through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as impostors, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well-known; as dying and yet — see! — we continue to live; as those who are scourged and yet not executed; as sorrowful, but always rejoicing, as poor, but making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

  • But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come… Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

    But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

    (1 Timothy 3:1, 12ff, NASB)

  • thanks for this blog…I don’t really know what to say other than it tugs at my spirit, and fires it up

  • I will fast and pray on behalf of all involved this week… Know that the enemy seeks as targets the most fruitful vineyards, which is why I think he’s after the likes of you, WRs, and AIM folks. I’ll beef up the prayer on this end. I know our King will have the victory and testimony in all things.

  • What you are describing is not the “kingdom suffering violence” but the pressure or persecution (Gr. thlipsis) that comes “for the word’s sake” in the parable of the seed (Mark 4). It can come through natural or supernatural means. It’s purpose is to stop the believer from bringing forth the fruit of the word. On one hand it can be seen as the evidence of bearing the seed, as Paul describes his sufferings as proof of his apostleship in 2nd Cor, but it’s the fruit that counts. The victory cannot be obtained through any carnal means. The seed bears the fruit in and of itself given time. (Mark 4) “Night and day, whether asleep or awake, we know not how.” The battleground is the mind.
    The kingdom of heaven suffering violence refers to the radical nature of the gospel whereby the “ungodly” are freely justified by faith. Jesus contrasts the time of “the Law and Prophets” being preached with the time of “John the Baptist until now”. Only unbelief can stop the sinner from receiving this new kingdom, and Jesus often commended the ones who showed this “violent” faith, a disregard for religious protocol in order to receive: for example, touching his robe in the crowd of people, tearing the roof off to lower down the crippled man, climbing the tree to get a better look, crying out repeatedly “son of David, have mercy on me.” etc

  • Nick R, what incredible insight. Your words blessed me and I will use them in teaching my Sunday School lesson. Thank you.

  • Of all the websites non of you got it right.None of you have any idea what you are talking about.First of all the kingdom of God is two parts of the Holy Spirit,first it is the person of the Holy Spirit coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit.The first is given at salvation,the second part is given when the person called has sold out for Jesus and has been prepared and ready for the masters use this servant is now ready to fulfill the calling of Christ,thats when he gets the second portion of oil “the anionting power of the kingdom”.Thus the Kingdom of God within.Having the first part of the Holy which is the person does not designate Kingdom power until he is sold out for service and is fit for the masters use.Then comes the power and double portion of the Holy Spirit,thus the power of the kingdom of heaven within.The violent are aware of the power and kingdom within another person and pressure the servant of Christ so badly that he cannot hold that kingdom power anymore within because he is faint and to weak from within then the abuse is so bad the unaware servant collapses from the fatigue that the agressor (the violent one simple takes it from him like a thief.thus leaving the faithful servant without the kingdom power and eternally destrought never to be renewed.Therefore becareful of the person who tries to get to close to you and stays to long he or she will hurt the Lords innocent servant and try to rob you of the God given power that was given to you thats how the violent take the kingdom power by force stay away from these evil violent people especially when the Holy Spiriit says to get rid of him or her you’ll be warned when you get contnuos warnings in your heart that you can’t stand them in your heart and you can’t sleep at night because of them discard them quickly keep them thourghly out of you life your fiend and brother in Christ brother Gil.God bless you brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • I was so dejected, depressed and stressed up, until I saw your post about comments made on Matt 11:12. I found out that we are more than conquerors. I also found out that man born of a woman is full of troubles. As far as we are alive violence will look for us. It will reach out to us. We are to be bold in confronting our problems not sitting down. We are to fight with His word.We learn to lean on God; In 2 Cor 6:4-8 we see that He is our Father and we are His sons and daughters.

  • I am also reminded,” to stand still and know that I am God.” 2 Chronicles 20:13-17. The word, “this great multitudes.” Is anything and everything violence coming our way but He will see you though.

  • Have you noticed that we don’t sing “Onward Christian Soldiers” like we used to? Yet at times like this, the thought of ranks upon rank of Christians marching together “as to war” seems appropriate.
    Your work, Seth, in this world is powerful and the Christians who know you are all with you as these troubles are hurled against us. Christ is the rock. We cling to Him and let the waves wash over us, the rock remains. But you know all this, I’m just letting you know that your aren’t alone.

    Steve J.

  • Thank you I now know its just not saying faith without works is dead sometimes works without faith is also dead I assumed I had to be meek and take whatever garbage the world had to throw at me this teaching showed me that yes I can still be a Christian and stand up for my self if I feel Ive been wronged.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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