By guile - and by strength?
"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it." Matthew 11.12
Strange and terrible things are happening in Burma. Bizarrely the generals have turned on the elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who sacrificed her status as an icon of democracy to justify the military's murderous campaign against their own, Rohingya, people. Is this the end of a flirtation with more open government, or does it signify the death throes of a discredited regime?
Time will tell. But the victims of oppression do not have time. Their lives and livelihoods are under real and present threat. There is a vibrant church in Burma, which is close to my heart because I was baptised into it. I suppose you could say that my spiritual roots are in Burma. As if that were not enough, does not the apostle Paul remind us that the church is like our own bodies, when one part hurts the whole is wracked with pain?
Now when Jesus talks about the kingdom being "subject to violence" is what is happening in Burma the kind of thing he is talking about? Probably not. Quite the reverse, in fact, although he is making a connection with forceful behaviour. When the stakes are high it is no time for pussy-footing. Whether it is about interceding for our suffering sisters and brothers or securing our own redemption from sin and death, the situation is urgent, the time for action is now and the commitment required is total.