And as I have looked at history, it seems to me that humanity has a few things that it is good at. Even a couple of things at which it excels. But it has occurred to me that what humans are best at is killing each other. Inflicting violence upon one another is what our nature has perfected. From sticks to swords to guns to bombs… we know how to mess you up.
I have spent a lot of time going through and trying to figure out what the Fulfilled Kingdom of God is like because I think it is what Christ tried to bring to us in his actions, words and life.
Isaiah, in 2, gives us the words, “In the last days…” This is the fulfillment of the kingdom. This is a snapshot of what the established kingdom will look like. No wonder Jesus thought it was important, it was right here in his scriptures.
In the Kingdom of God, there is no more war, no swords, no spears, no guns, no ICBMs.
In the Kingdom of God, the people will let God judge between the nations and between people.
This certainly isn’t how the world is now.
In fact, one could argue that those aspects of the kingdom are totally impossible to replicate in this world. The empires of the earth would never allow it. Our enemies too great, too strong, too evil. Where would the Church be if it followed that example to a tee? Would it even still exist?
And yet, we are told of a light. A light of the Lord. A light that is illuminating our path even now.
These are the ways he will teach us, these are the paths that we will walk. As our journey as individuals and as the Church moves us down our road, it is this light that shows us how to be people of the kingdom, how to be people who are able to see further than five feet in front of us.
Do we have the ability, responsibility, desire to emulate that established kingdom? If we don’t think that we can say yes, then it seems to be all for naught. Something we should think hard on and be serious about.
What are the caveats to God’s peace? Just war? Harm to others? Where in the Gospel are the exceptions to being a people of peace? Where in the words of Christ do we find the loopholes that let us get around the Sermon on the Mount?
Well, sure, that’s all well and good but we aren’t Jesus. We can’t follow his example. I mean, really, we might name ourselves “Christ-like” but come on….
Are we allowed to believe/participate in a transitional kingdom of God? Did Christ believe that just trying to be that kind of person, that kind of Church was good enough? When he asked for God’s will to be done on earth as it was in heaven, was he just being metaphorically ambiguous?
Is it ok to rely on what we can see? On our best understanding of how the world works?
The disciples came to Christ once and said, “Rabbi, send the people away. They’re hungry. We don’t have enough. We can’t do anything for them. We know the reality of the situation and so we need to send these people to the inns, the institutions, the governments that can provide for their peace and security.”
Christ would have none of it. That’s not how the Fulfilled Kingdom of God works.
Or does “be perfect as your father is perfect” mean be perfect? Does it mean that we are expected to follow our example and see what he sees and act like he acted?
But God killed lots of people in the Old Testament! Yep. Seems to have. And yet as we come to the Gospel, we find Jesus telling us over and over again, “You have heard it said… But I tell you…”
I understand the difficulty of the task assigned to us.
Beating swords into plowshares is hard work. It’s time consuming and laborious. You already worked hard to make the sword. And now you have to work hard to transform it into something else entirely.
But both are instruments. Swords for the killing and plowshares for the harvest. And believe me, the harvest is full and ready and maybe it’s not a matter of there not being enough harvesters but those harvesters not having the right tools for the job.
In Deuteronomy, God addresses the Shema, “Hear, O Israel”. Again, not Hear, O Egypt or Hear, O Babylon or Hear, O America.
Hear, O people of God. Hear, O nation of priests.
Isaiah addresses the same people. “Come, O house of Jacob”- Written to the people of God. Are we to place this on others?
Is this a call to be different than the countries around us? A call to be different than the countries we are in? Is this applicable to only governmental systems that we don’t happen to agree with?
Do we believe that we can be a people of peace? The body of the prince of peace in this world, in our country, our workplaces, our homes?