Swords into Shovels | Isaiah 2.1-5
There’s a day coming
when the mountain of God’s House
Will be The Mountain—
solid, towering over all mountains.
All nations will river toward it,
people from all over set out for it.
They’ll say, “Come,
let’s climb God’s Mountain,
go to the House of the God of Jacob.
He’ll show us the way he works
so we can live the way we’re made.”
Zion’s the source of the revelation.
God’s Message comes from Jerusalem.
He’ll settle things fairly between nations.
He’ll make things right between many peoples.
They’ll turn their swords into shovels,
their spears into hoes.
No more will nation fight nation;
they won’t play war anymore.
Come, family of Jacob,
let’s live in the light of God. Isaiah 2:1-5 | MSG
“My kingdom is not of this world, otherwise my disciples would have fought to prevent my capture.” Such a radical, disarming statement. Peter still tried to fight it in the garden that dark night of Jesus’ betrayal. So do we. It simply isn’t natural not to fight. At least not to fight back. So we hear statements like “if you’re adversary wants to sue you and take away your jacket, give him your shirt as well” or “if someone slaps you on the right cheek, then turn to him other as well,” and we protest with an immediate “Yeah but” as we proceed to identify those times where the “rule” doesn’t apply. Or we just dismiss the whole thing, at least practically, as an idealistic or heavenly sentiment that has little to do with us and the real world. I just watched a video this morning of a driver who evidently felt threatened by a gang of bikers who then offended one of them as he tried to get away – and the chase was on. Eventually the driver was cornered in traffic, and then first his vehicle was assaulted and then his person. That is what we know. And all too often on a societal level the Church simply becomes an extension of this tit-for-tat business, becoming a mere adjunct and rubber stamp of secular power. Takes me back to a line from the classic Ben Hur as the hero is warned against pursuing a path of revenge, and the godly man leaves, the more pragmatic character responds, “Balthazar is a good man. But until all men are like him, we must keep our swords bright.” And so we find ourselves sharpening our swords and continuing to play at war while we speak of a holy kingdom of peace. Clearly there is a tension here for us to manage and weigh carefully: the kingdom is now but also clearly not yet, and we live in a hard and violent world. However, as ambassadors of Christ and ministers of a new covenant characterized by scandalizing grace and forgiveness, our primary mode is always one of beating swords into shovels rather than sharpening them into more effective weapons. And this begins with us. Personally.
What swords in your life need to be shaped into shovels? What “war games” in your personal life do you need to stop playing?
Each day this week, begin your response to his call by praying the prayer of St. Francis. Write it down, take it with you. Let your spirit soak in it…
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
For all of this week’s small group resources including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.