Holy Violence Pt. 2

In Part 1, I introduced the topic of spiritual violence using the life of John the Baptist as our prime example. In this post I’d like to give a few more examples from the pages of Scripture of people who, in their own way and their own time, lived lives that we spiritually violent.

First, let’s consider a hero of the faith from the Old Testament. King David was the simple shepherd boy who God referred to as the man after His own heart. As he sought God on those sprawling hills near Bethlehem, he became a diligent worshiper with the early skills of a leader preparing to care for the Lord’s nation. He was such a devoted servant that he sought to put comfort and convenience aside in order that God would be glorified. In Psalm 132, David was remembered to have said, “Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house, Or go up to the comfort of my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes Or slumber to my eyelids, Until I find a place for the LORD, A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob” (v. 3-5). This posture made David a man who embraced spiritual violence to serve God with all of his being.

Next, let’s consider the Apostle Paul. We all know Paul as the man who, after a radical conversion experience, gave up all of his social and religious clout to follow Jesus and spread the Gospel to the nations. If that weren’t enough to qualify as violent, you can look at the list of things he endured in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 to take the message abroad. To that list, Paul added a qualifier in Philippians 3:13-14 when he said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” In other words, all the good work that had been done, as well as all the bad things that occurred (consider again the list), Paul hit delete. He constantly wiped the slate clean to propel himself further into the grace and love of Jesus.

Lastly, we will consider the simple example of Mary of Bethany. In John 12:1-7, the story is told of how Mary anointed Jesus for burial. The oil of spikenard she used was worth an entire year’s salary, and she poured it out on Him without hesitation or regard to the disciples’ objections. All of her financial security and hope for a future–perhaps even a husband–was represented in the vial. Unfortunately, we don’t have time or space to consider all these heroes of spiritual violence, but you can always turn to Hebrews 11 to learn glean from their examples.

And don’t forget to consider the life and example of the One who gave it all for us in the most extravagant act of holy violence–Christ Jesus.

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