Yesterday we saw how God desires us to seek Him by sowing righteousness through our actions by obeying His will. There is another concept that is very closely linked to seeking God, and that is found in Matthew 11:12:
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.
This verse perplexed me for many years. I truly had to seek the Lord on what it meant. Unfortunately, in this context the English language is quite limiting, which can sometimes hide the true meaning. If you just think of the word violence, we often associate it with something negative. This word for violence in the Greek actually carries a very positive connotation. A rather helpful translation of this word could be “aggressive desperation” or “to forcibly seize something with positive aggressiveness”. Furthermore, this aggressiveness is God’s doing in the life of a believer: we are fired up by God to act upon His revelation.
In Luke 16:16 we have a parallel verse, and it states that “the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.”
So what does this all mean? It means that those who want to live in God’s Kingdom are characterized by desperation and zeal. Just as the Israelites took the land of Canaan with physical violence, we press into the Kingdom with spiritual violence. We do anything to make sure the Kingdom of God is our focus and reason for living. It means that we put aside anything that hinders us from knowing the Lord and living for Him.
I’m sure in this lockdown time many of us have done some decluttering, or gardening, or cleaning (I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve achieved greatness when my bedside table is clutter-free!) When we declutter, the mindset is to keep that which is essential, and remove that which is unnecessary. It is the same with our faith. Those who seek the Lord must put aside the unnecessary and focus on the essential.
This is exactly what the writer of Hebrews tells us when he says:
“Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hb 12:1-2).”
One of the ways we aggressively seize the Kingdom is therefore by being ruthless with sin. It is no secret that until we see Jesus face to face we will continue to rebel against God by sinning daily. Thank the Lord that He has made a way for us to overcome these sins! He wants to work with us so that He can remove sin from within us. A person who desires to live a holy life will show God that they are desperately pressing in to the Kingdom; they are giving the Lord full access to their lives.
The unnecessary things can also just be time wasters or energy suckers. They might not look like obvious sins, as they often subtly masquerade as innocent activities, but they move us on a course that doesn’t seek God. This does not include resting, as this is very important. Yet even our daily schedules must be submitted to God so that we can rid ourselves of the unnecessary.
These are just some areas that we can be aggressive in. No one but the Lord can tell you what the “unnecessary” things are, and no one but Him can reveal the “essentials” for your life. The principle stands: The greater our desperation for the Lord, the deeper our satisfaction will be here on earth, and the greater our transformation. True satisfaction is found in seeking the Lord. As the psalmist says in Psalm 36, “You (God) give them drink from the river of Your delights; for with You is the fountain of life.”
I pray that we might have tender hearts for the Lord to mould. That He might give us hearts that are desperately aggressive for more of Him and will do anything it takes to enter deeper into the Kingdom. May you press in with the Lord to the fullest limit!
Questions for reflection:
- Is your life one that is characterized by spiritual violence for God’s Kingdom?
- What are some essentials that God is asking you to implement?
- Are there any unnecessary activities that are taking away your focus on God?
- Ask God to show you if there is any sin that must be dealt with.
I leave you with a quote from T. Austin-Sparks:
“Violence has to characterize us. [We must be people who say], ‘By God’s grace, nothing and no one, however good, is going to stand in my way; I am going on with God.’”