John 6:15: "king by force"

Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (John 6:15, NIV)

Context: John 6:8-15

What characterizes a society bowing to the temptation to force goodness upon the world through governmental might and authority? Jesus resisted this temptation in the desert and still faced it when people wanted to force His ministry into an earthly government. Such a society puts more emphasis on laws and external conformity than changing the heart to what God desires.

Christian societies are far from immune to this temptation. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America helps protect us from this tendency:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In particular, this amendment prevented the U.S.A. from establishing, supporting, and enforcing religion as England did the Church of England.

The temptation to propagate religion by force can emphasize militancy and ignore personal faith. Taken to the extreme it concentrates on spreading religion through taking over governments, whether through military conquest or covertly. It may colonize land rather than reach out to people. It outlaws religious expression and evangelism other than it's own mandated religion. Once dominant, it can even go to the extreme of jailing or executing citizens who refuse to conform.

When society squelches the ability of people to share their faith, it is forcing religious views on people. Forbidding theistic religious expression essentially forces a person to practice atheism/agnosticism.

©2001 Perry Vernon Webb. You may quote this page in part or the whole as long as you
1) do not alter the wording and
2) reference this Internet page as the source of the quote.