Not long ago, some Marxist revolutionaries, apparently misunderstanding the nature of my Revolutingnow Facebook group, joined the group and began posting Marxist propaganda on the site. While I was in a church service, one of them added over 300 fellow Marxists to the group, and before I deleted them from the group I had a spirited conversation with three of them. They claimed to be Christians, but admitted that they advocated the use of violence to accomplish their goals.
As I embark on a series describing the characteristics of the kingdom of God, I want to begin with an article emphasizing why those who pursue the kingdom must be fully committed to nonviolence. I will also demonstrate why no kingdom that is established through the use of violence can be anything but a violent kingdom.
The New Testament makes it clear that the kingdom of God is not of this world, and that the followers of Jesus must not resist physically the attacks of those who persecute them. John the Revelator tells us that believers actually overcome their enemies by submitting to death rather than submitting to the evil kingdom (Rev 12:11). Resisting is required, but resisting violently is out of the question. That is because God’s kingdom is not of this world, and only after we die do we enter fully into the kingdom and the presence of Jesus. Death is our victory, so we do not count our lives as dear to ourselves (Acts 20:23). We only want to serve the Lord so that Christ will be glorified in our bodies, and it does not matter if that comes by life or by death (Phil 1:20).
The reason for the name of my Facebook group and my blog page is because God has revealed to me and many of my co-laborers in the gospel that he wants to initiate a grass roots awakening in America and around the world that will exceed anything we have ever seen before. America has degenerated so far from God’s will that revival will not restore her to the place God wants her to be. Nothing short of a Jesus revolution will turn America around.
But this is a bloodless revolution, one that is founded upon peace, humility, and submission – quite the opposite of how almost all other revolutions have occurred. The only bloodshed permitted in the kingdom of God is the blood shed willingly by Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. This principle of peace is so important to God that when he first revealed his plan for the kingdom of God, he made bloodless hands the prerequisite for its establishment. David wanted to build a house for God. Nathan the prophet sensed that this was a worthy cause and told David to do it. But God corrected Nathan and told him to make David stop. Why? Because his hands were stained with blood. Near the end of his life, David told his son Solomon:
This word of the Lord came to me: “You have shed much blood and fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest…He is the one who will build a house for my name” (1 Chr 22:8-10).
When David spoke these words to Solomon, he was referring to the time when God promised him a dynasty, which would be the beginning of the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth (see 2 Sam 7:1-17). At the time God first revealed the concept of his eternal kingdom, he refused to allow David to build the center of worship for the kingdom specifically because he was a man who “shed much blood.” Even though David is the progenitor of the kingdom, he cannot build the worship center. That privilege is reserved for Solomon. Interestingly, Solomon’s name means “peace.”
David was not a bloodthirsty murderer or an ambitious warlord. The blood he shed was only for righteous causes. Yet the mere fact that he killed people was enough to disqualify him from erecting God’s temple. God’s temple will be built by a man of peace in the city of peace (Jerusalem means “city of peace”). That is because the kingdom of God must be founded upon peace, not war and bloodshed, regardless of the justification for such bloodshed. Peace may in fact be the foundational characteristic of the kingdom, as its ruler is called the Prince of Peace.
When I probed the intentions of the Marxists posting on my Facebook page, they tried to sound like peaceful people, but when I pressed them, one of them admitted that “sometimes it is necessary to use violence in order to establish peace” (paraphrased from memory). However, this logic is flawed and self-contradictory. Any kingdom that is established by force and through the shedding of blood is a violent kingdom. To be a kingdom of peace, it must be established in peace. That is why David went to great lengths to absolve himself from the guilt of the deaths of Saul (2 Sam 1:1-27), Abner (2 Sam 3:28-39), and Ish-Bosheth (2 Sam 4:9-12), issuing public laments and mourning over their deaths before all the people. After publicly mourning over Abner, we are told, “So on that day all the people there and all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder of Abner” (2 Sam 3:37).
David knew that if murder was associated with his ascent to the throne, then bloodshed would be justified within his kingdom for the promotion of one’s political ideals. That is why the use of violence can never be for the promotion of peace. Only two conditions can exist in a kingdom established through violence. Either there is a condition of violence within the kingdom, or there is a temporary peace that sits precariously under the threat of violence. Why? Because peace only exists as long as the people submit to the authorities. If the authorities are willing to use violence to establish the kingdom, they most certainly will use it to protect the kingdom against all threats. This is evidenced by the systematic persecution of Christians under Communist regimes in the 20th century and in China today. Particularly a Marxist, socialistic government cannot withstand Christianity because the government insists on being the final authority, but a Christian’s final authority is always God, not a human dictator. Such a regime will use violence whenever it feels threatened, so even if it is not currently perpetrating violence, it is still violent at heart. The subjects of a kingdom established by violence may not currently be experiencing war, but they will never have peace.
It is commonly argued that in the Old Testament the kingdom was secured through much bloodshed, so this characterization of the kingdom is one-sided and inaccurate. In my next article I will address this charge and demonstrate that God only uses violence to execute judgment, not to advance his kingdom.