Matthew 12:11: “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force.” CSB
OBSERVATION: Am I prepared for the battles of life? If my concept of Christianity is one of peace and serenity, I will soon be disappointed. The call to follow Jesus Christ, the call to enter into the Kingdom of God, is a call to battle.
This battle, like so many things that relate to the Kingdom of God, is marked by a paradox. When I was a child we use to sing the song, “Onward Christian soldiers, going off to war.” As a child I never really understood this song. My concept of going off to war was marching off to engage in a battle. Yet, we don’t march into battle as Christians. We are thrown into battle by our faith.
The battle of darkness and light has been waging since the moment that Satan and his angels rebelled against God in heaven. Since that time, the kingdom of darkness has been opposed to the Kingdom of God. Everything the enemy of our souls can do to dissuade us from entering into God’s Kingdom, he will do. We must be prepared for battle.
Jesus told His disciples that He did not come to bring peace on the earth, but a sword. The truth is a sword that divides. All we need to do is stand up for the truth of God’s Word and we will find ourselves in the battle. And we will find that our enemies in this battle are not just those who openly oppose the truth, they can also be the religious, and even our closest friends and members of our own family.
I have seen this many times as I have posted something on Facebook. Many times it has just been a call to prayer. Even a call to prayer ignites the battle. Especially if you are encouraging prayer for those others disagree with. Yet, the Scriptures call us to pray for all men, especially those who are in authority over us. The battle is not just over the sensitive moral issues of our day. The battle rages whenever the smallest light of God’s truth is raised.
This can become discouraging. Sometimes we get so tired of the battle. Yet, we must persevere. Our battle is not against individuals, it is against the kingdom of darkness. To walk in the light requires the fullness of the Grace of God in our lives at all times. We need to put on all the pieces of our spiritual armor so that we will be able to stand strong against the enemy of our souls. We must embrace the struggle, acknowledge the battle, and use the same effort and tenacity we experience against us to enter into the Kingdom of God.
The phrase, “…and the violent take it by force…”, can have two meanings. It can mean that those opposed to the Gospel will continually oppose it by force. It can also mean, as in Luke’s account of this verse (Luke 16:16), that those who enter into the Kingdom of God must enter it with a struggle. They must press into it. They must hunger and thirst for righteousness. They must not become weary in well doing, for in the end they will reap a harvest, if they don’t lose heart.
So, what happens when I become battle weary? And I do become battle weary. Have you ever felt like you have hit the wall? You have had more than you can endure. The question arises – “When will this ever end?” Jesus addresses this in the end of this chapter. Jesus also became tired and weary in His humanity. He knew how important it was to get alone with the Father and to allow His soul to be restored. This is why Jesus exhorts us all,
- “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 CSB
When we are weary and burdened, Jesus is waiting for us to give us rest. He will restore us. He will teach us. He will comfort us. He will strengthen us. He will renew us. It is when we take time to be with the Lord that we are prepared for the ongoing battles of life. We cannot stay on the battle field 24/7. If we do, we all will faint. We must come apart and spend time with the Father as Jesus did.
This is not an escape from the battle of life. However, it is an oasis where we are restored and renewed. Our faith is strengthened. We receive His all sufficient grace. The Holy Spirit renews our mind and heart through His Word. We are restored in the presence of God as we spend time in prayer. And we gain new strategy for the challenges of life that lie ahead. We have this wonderful invitation, this wonderful provision, always before us. We are never in the battles of life alone!
Lord, help me to stand strong in the battles of life. I acknowledge that my strength is not in my effort, but in my faith in Christ alone. As I face the battles and challenges of life, remind me to come to You before, in, and after the battle. Renew, restore, and strengthen me in Your presence. Help me to enter into your Kingdom of light today.
In Jesus Name!