Taking the Kingdom by Force
“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.” Luke 16:16 (NASB)
This verse sounds odd to most of us. We are used to thinking of a milder, more passive form of Christianity where we are forgiven and receive love. While this is true, there is also another essential aspect of our faith which this verse draws our attention to. There are times in our lives when we must be pro-active, in which we must struggle to take hold of the healing grace Christ is offering us. That struggle is against ourselves.
The Kingdom that Christ has come to give is the kingdom of peace. This word in Hebrew (shalom) means that all things are properly ordered and fully alive. We are in the right relationship with God, with each other and with ourselves. As we come under the Lordship of Christ, we begin to experience peace and wholeness in mind, body and spirit. This process begins by receiving Christ as Lord and His forgiveness. But that is not the whole of the story and this is where our verse comes in.
In certain areas of our lives there is brokenesss that takes the form of fear, shame and pain. To become whole, we must discern the path God would have us go down and follow that path. We must not only receive God’s grace but we must work with it and be proactive. Many Christians are walking around with wounds that have been inflicted in their childhood. Fearful experience, exposure to sexual episodes that were improper, verbal or physical abuse from siblings, parents or friends, etc. While the person is indeed a Christian, the life of Christ within them needs to touch these deeper wounds.
Here is where the person must ‘force their way into the kingdom.’ Because we have been hurt, at a deep level we run away from our pain as a form of protection. Thus, when we sense we are being called to face the pain, we tend to run away, become passive, do anything but deal with that pain again. Here is where our wills come into play. To become whole, to stop the cycle of hurt, we need to find a way to open up the wounded areas in our lives and allow the healing grace of Christ to enter in. This takes great courage. All of our nature tends to rebel against this idea. We would rather keep the status quo and not rock the boat. We can pretend the pain is not, but it still affects our lives.
The only way forward is, by God’s grace, to take ourselves in hand and actively open ourselves to God’s grace. We need to seek wholeness with our wills and with consistent effort. We cannot be passive; we must ‘force’ our weakened natures to face our wounds and let them be healed. This may mean seeking out some one who can walk with me through this pain such as a prayerful friend, a priest or a counsellor. God knows the way to freedom, but we must be willing to do whatever He shows us. This is taking the kingdom by force. In effect, we are ‘forcing’ ourselves to stay within the healing light of Christ- even when it is not comfortable.