And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12
John emerged from the desert with a hard-edged message of repentance. The wild man's warnings echoed through the wilderness and bounced off the granite hearts of the Pharisaical. His announcement of Messiah's arrival ushered in a spiritually violent era. From that point on, few who entered Christ's kingdom did so unscathed. Kingdom people suffered unrelenting violence.
And the violent take it [the kingdom] by force. What does this phrase mean?
We know that Jesus is not suggesting that anyone -- in John's day or our day -- can force their way into God's kingdom or through might subdue it. But I am quite sure he is telling us that those engaged in advancing Christ's kingdom are possessed with a non-violent violence -- their advance may be resisted, but it will not be denied.