DAY 27 - The Real Fight - Tom Pauquette
The Real Fight
Matthew 11:11, 12: [Jesus said] I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.
Here, again, we see that according to Jesus the way to greatness is through authentic humility. John the Baptist was a crazy guy. He wore crazy clothes, ate crazy food, preached a crazy message, and generally lived a pretty crazy life. He lived out in the desert with the wild animals which, Im guessing, were probably afraid of him!
At the center of Johns life was a radical humility. Certainly John had passed up many other options on his way to the desert. He had been born in to a prominent family. He had the discipline and personal sacrifice that enabled him to run with the toughest of his peers. He displayed a genuine intelligence in his stifling responses to his critics. John could have been anyone, he could have accomplished anything.
But John left his life of opportunity and went to the desert. John laid down his options and his free moral agency and he followed God. He set aside his inherent rights to fulfill his own destiny and live up to his own potential. All this he did to be faithful to the call of God on his life.
Speaking of John the Baptist, Jesus made a fascinating comment: From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. Interesting. Jesus insists that the Kingdom of God comes by force. As western Christians we are inclined to automatically think we need to pray harder or louder or become more commanding in the tone of our spiritual lives. While there may be times to step up to that plate with this kind of force, this cant be what Jesus is saying here. What Hes saying is that there is, perhaps, nothing in your life that will require more of your personal force (determination, dedication, perseverance, etc.), than laying down your personal rights in order to humbly follow after the call of God. So much of our own human (sinful) nature is dedicated to self-advancement and self-protection that we will literally have to fight in order to find the place of humility in our lives.
Clearly you want to find and follow God. You would not be bothering to read this if you didnt. But do you want to find and follow God deeply enough to fight this fight against your own pride and sense of entitlement in order to get to the place of humbly seeking and obeying Him? The real force of laying hold of the Kingdom of God is not going to be about praying louder or shaking our fists toward Satan. The real force of laying hold of the Kingdom of God is first to be exerted toward our own selves as we humbly lay down our lives to follow after Christ.
Have a power day!
Tom Pauquette is the Senior Pastor at Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Grove City