Last week, one of the Church’s giants in faith, David Wilkerson, was killed in a head-on collision. I wondered about the violence of David’s death. It’s one of those things that David would have told us not to fret about—just trust in God’s sovereign goodness, and don’t try to make sense of it.
As I reflected on the violence of his death, however, I thought to myself ‘David died much the way he lived.’ His was a ‘violent’ Christianity, living every day with passion and power, as though it were his last. He lived with self-abandonment. David Wilkerson was one of the Church's “violent men” who take the kingdom of God “by force” (Mat. 11:12). The “gates of hell could not prevail” (Mat. 16:18) against David Wilkerson and the mighty army of men and women he raised up.
But the words “violent” and “force” do not tell the whole story. He was a very humble man, a servant leader—even as Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death (Philippians 2:8). David did violence to his own flesh long before an auto accident took his life so violently. Likewise, Peter, Paul, James, and most of the Apostles and early followers of Jesus died violent deaths. But they were all long dead to this world before that happened—men who “did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die” (Rev. 12:11), even a violent death!