This week I was pulled to the 11th chapter of Isaiah. I needed to be reminded that God will bring about the peaceful kingdom. In verses 1-9, we are given the vision of what God’s kingdom will look like. The most compelling image for me is that of predator and prey at peace with one another: “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6 NRSV)
It is an image that sustains me in these chaotic days. The chapter begins with the promise of a savior who will come out of the tree of Jesse and bring about this kingdom. There will be judgment as well as reconciliation.
Do we hear those words and imagine the other who needs judging? Casting Crowns wrote a song entitled, “Jesus, Friend of Sinners.” In one of the verses, there are these words, “No one knows what we’re for, only what we’re against when we judge the wounded.” Jesus calls us to be better than that. He calls us to “love like He did.” It is time. The world is in need of knowing what we are for not what we are against. I can offer you where I stand. I stand in that place between what is and what will be. I stand to offer love and reconciliation to all who are in need. I stand to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand. Casting Crowns in their song asks us to put down our signs and cross over the lines and love like Jesus did. I can only imagine what it takes for a predator to live with its prey and not devour it. The predator has to overcome that which was inherent in being wolf or leopard or bear or lion. The predator has to choose to be different. The prey, the lamb, has to trust the predator to be in the same space with it. They have signs to take down and lines to cross to live in the peaceful kingdom.
The streets are scattered with signs.
Social media is filled with memes. Sound bites are on every channel. We are overwhelmed with what the world wants us to know, to believe, to trust as true. Our communities are becoming divided and we are guarding our hearts, stopping our ears and closing our minds.
I believe in the Kingdom of God and the only way I know to participate in building His kingdom is to love. I am called to love the predator and the prey. For me, loving as Jesus does means I must examine where I am failing to love (heart guarding), to listen (ear stopping), to understand the other (close minded). Each of us has things to let go of to be Kingdom dwellers, and the peaceful kingdom is where God dwells. I for one want to take up residence there, don’t you?