I was reading in Matthew today and in chapter 11 Jesus talks about the Kingdom of Heaven forcefully advancing (NLT). The Bible I’m using is the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible (NLT) with commentary by Jack Hayford.
In his notes titled Kingdom Dynamics he says this:
“Jesus defines the ‘violence’ of His Kingdom’s expansion by defining the
‘sword’ and ‘fire’ He has brought as different from the battle techniques
of political or military warfare…
The upheaval caused by the Kingdom of God is not caused by
political provocation or armed advance.
It is the result of God’s order shaking relationships,
households, cities, and nations by the
entry of the Holy Spirit’s power working in people.'”
This thought ties perfectly with Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 when he writes that the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. In Ephesians chapter 6 Paul is again writing about the full armor of God and that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. He tells us to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
Real change in a nation and society is not the result of legislation. Those policies are important, yes, and for those Christians called to work or advocate in that venue, you should do your very best as you serve the Lord.
But for most of the society, good change only comes about as people (starting with those who call themselves Christians!) allow the Spirit of God to fill their hearts and let Him have His way. He teaches us to love everyone. His Spirit empowers us to see each person, not according to a label, lifestyle, race, or any other difference, but according to how greatly He loves them and wants to draw them to Himself.
This is why we must seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit. None of what the New Testament asks of us in our living is even remotely possible for us to do. We try, fail, try, fail, and eventually settle for our own best efforts with the excuse that God doesn’t really expect us to live that well.
But He does. Not by our own strength, but by coming to Him completely aware of how helpless we are and seeking a fresh filling of His Spirit, who alone can live the Christian life He asks us to live. The ability to forgive, love, serve, or defer to others does not come naturally and can only be accomplished because Jesus sends His Spirit to fill us and live through us. We are not our own.
Beware of any teaching that would tell you that there isn’t more of God to be found and possessed. He is infinite, and there are always greater depths and dimensions of Himself that He is willing to fill us with if we will but seek Him with our whole hearts. The alternative leaves us trying in our own strength to beat down the sin that so easily trips us up in our efforts to please Him. We please Him by trusting Him to be Himself in and through us moment by moment.
Our neighborhoods, schools, communities, states, and nation can be different. The responsibility lies with Christians first. We are the ones who carry the life and love of Christ, and He will empower us to reach and love others if we are willing to become like He was in the world. Not popular with the in crowd, not politically powerful, not respected, not adored, but the one who will wash feet, kneel next to an immoral sinner, touch the unclean, challenge the self-righteous, and heal the broken. That’s how we change the world, one encounter at a time.
Ephesians 3:14-5:21; Galatians 5:13-26; Philippians 2:1-8