Tuesday, January 17, 2017

God's Kingdom - where you can finally be yourself to the fullest

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:6-9

Today's Reading Isaiah 11-14

Photo by Allef Vinicius/Unsplash modified by D.R.
Isaiah was quite a visionary. One second its heavenly scenery and the second, it’s the furry and horror of war. A conflicted soul perhaps, he was? Perhaps. But if one thing is clear; God is a God of justice. This is a theme that will be repeated especially in the book of Isaiah. Those who live under law shall die under law and according its statutes. Those who live out of the law, the same. Justice is served to each and every nation and there is no favoritism.

In fact, if you look closer at God’s indignation at both His people and other nations, what was the sin? Social injustice. People oppressed people, God’s image (i.e. humankind) was desecrated. The poor, the sick, the outcast, the orphan, the widow… the refuse of the land were under a systematized form oppression; it became normal.

The Middle East today (and of course, you see this everywhere else too) really offers a picture of how absurdity becomes normal. And not the benign, funny kind of absurdity, but a wicked and Orwellian sort. When you live there and you see the way people behave, what they value, how they talk about other religions and peoples, it’s incredible! People are so uniform within their little pseudo-tribes and no one see’s that they all have embrace the same vile opinions, cultural norms and practices (Jews, Muslims, Christians… all are doing this). It is astounding how everybody just goes with it and no one rejects it – sadly the church all over the world is so distracted that it barely ever addresses these issues.

Isaiah, called it out. He told his people, never mind that you offer the sacrifices and mark the feasts - what about the Lord’s true justice. That was the Law! Isaiah was like an ancient Israelite version of Martin Luther King Jr.

That’s when we see a really beautiful picture (in Isa 11) of the Kingdom of Jesus, the Messiah, brings. The lion and the lamb, the viper and the child, hunters and prey, venomous creatures and gentle herbivores alike, all living in peace together. 700 years later Peter, the apostle, would be praying on a roof top when he would see a vision of animals of all sorts. These animals represented the various peoples of different nations, languages and ethnicities (yes, the Ark is a vivid example of this too.)

What a timely message for today! The Kingdom was a place were all are equal, living not just in harmony, but in synergy! Working together in an everlasting Kingdom. 
And in this kingdom you are embraced just as you are. You don’t need to conform. 
Everyone it seems has their story, their background, and their personality; quirks and all. And yet they all embrace this diversity.

After all, there will come a time – at the end of all things – were Jesus will give you a stone, white and clean with a single item written on it; your true name. A name your Heavenly Father gave you and one only He will ever call you. That is how unique you are. And if there’s one place that uniqueness can strive, it’s in God’s kingdom.

As you cling to this truth, knowing full well that your church community may or may not embrace you for you are but that your Father and many more do, remember that this world needs your embrace too, now more than ever. 

If you missed some of this year's readings and accompanying devotionals click here.

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David Roiel
The Green Leaf Blog-Discover your inheritance!

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