I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor chap. It was cold and windy and his job was difficult—as anyone that has ever passed out literature can attest to. Half of his battle that day was keeping his pamphlets from blowing down the street and into a ditch. The other half of the battle was trying to convince every passerby that the pamphlets belonged in their hand and not in the ditch.
The sign clearly said FREE and his face clearly said friend. He had an infectious enthusiasm but still he couldn’t give them away. Apparently few people shared his zeal for knowing the truth about pesticides.
I imagine if he would have been handing out free money his line would have been much longer than his current line of one confused man that found himself regretting having ever asked a question. It likely would have shamed even the most vigorous of Black Friday stampedes. With great violence men and women would have taken hold of that free money.
This is why we shouldn’t scratch our heads when Jesus says things like this:
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12 ESV)
Taking the kingdom by force seems so opposite of the gospel of free grace. Why in the world would men and women need to forcefully grab at something that is free? Surely it is not because there is a limited supply of grace. And certainly not that one must bully his way into the kingdom—trampling over other beggars for a little slice of that bread. No, indeed there is enough of this Bread of Life to fill the world and all that is in it.
The fact that the “violent take it by force” is a display of the worth and value of the kingdom of God. The gospel is such a great message of hope that beggars cannot help but run to the table with great vigor. The gospel shouts out “come all of you that are weary and thirsty and heavy laden and I’ll give you rest”. And it is so powerful that it energizes the weary, thirsty, and downtrodden to Come.
Those that do not take the kingdom by force are like those that just passed by the man with his pesticide pamphlets. For them it is of no value. They walk right past the treasure hidden in the field. But those that see—those with eyes to see the beauty of Christ—they with great vigor and violence go after this great treasure. It’s the only fitting response of a heart that has been awakened.
Only a foolish sluggard would walk to grab hold of such a great prize.
Run, brothers and sisters. run.
(This post was inspired by Richard Sibbes’ work Violence Victorious)