Have you ever heard a charismatic preacher pound the pulpit and say something like, “We are in a war with the devil. And in a war only the most violent wins. In fact, Jesus said it from his own lips, that only the violent men of God will prevail over the devil. Only the strong warriors for God will take the kingdom by force?” If you have been involved in a charismatic church or heard a TV evangelist, chances are you may have heard something like this. They have used this text from Matthew 11:12 as their clarion call to rally the troops and especially try to appeal to the testosterone of men. It is a spiritual infomerical to call the men of the church to stand up for God and beat the snot out of the devil… so to speak.
It sounds really good. It seems to preach well. It gets some resounding AMENS, especially for some of the wives who want their man to be a man of God. But is this really what Jesus is saying??? When this passage from Matthew 11:12 gets quoted as a proof text, it sounds really good. But when you measure it against the other teachings of Jesus, then it doesn’t measure up with the love and grace that is characteristic of most of Jesus’ teachings. So, how do we reconcile this passage? Is Jesus saying something altogether different? What does he really intend to teach in this passage about the Kingdom of God or Heaven?