Sturdy Work Clothes & Boots | Isaiah 11.1-5
A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse’s stump,
from his roots a budding Branch.
The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him,
the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength,
the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God.
will be all his joy and delight.
He won’t judge by appearances,
won’t decide on the basis of hearsay.
He’ll judge the needy by what is right,
render decisions on earth’s poor with justice.
His words will bring everyone to attention.
A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked.
Each morning he’ll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots,
and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land.
Isaiah 11:1-5 | MSG
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the ‘sons of God.’” Peacemaking. It’s the divine birthmark that cannot remain hidden. It’s what God’s kids naturally do. “He that would love life and see good days, let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” It’s in our divine genes. Christ is the great wall breaker, tearing down cultural and religious walls that divide humanity even as we build them in God’s name. It’s what I love about this picture painted of Jesus seven hundred years or so before he even arrived on the scene. A green shoot. Not an old one withered with hatred, grudges or resentments. A shoot green with mercy and justice and budding with the life-giving Spirit of God bringing wisdom, giving direction, building strength. And then the key ingredient for each of us in our being empowered to be effective instruments of peace: he listens. He doesn’t base his actions on hearsay or hot heads. He hears. He sees. And then, looking beyond mere appearances and foregoing rash action based on one side of the story, he acts with fairness and justice. As the brother of Jesus counsels us, “Let everyone be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” Our problem is that we tend to get the speeds all mixed up. Real listening tends to be slow in happening, if ever, while our anger tends to have a trigger finger. It would no doubt be wise for us to remember that the only sword Jesus ever possessed is the one pictured in Revelation as coming out of his mouth, and that sword is ultimately more healing scalpel than cutting weapon; that rather than daily strapping on his sword, Jesus, instead, pulled on his sturdy work clothes and boots to build lives, pursuing his calling of “going about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.” It is a path of divine forgiveness and mercy we pursue, not retribution – though it’s is clear from these prophetic images in Isaiah that the sword coming out of Jesus’ mouth does in fact cut both ways, putting oppressors in their place as well as cutting the cords of bondage. Now if we can just remember to stop trying to take the sword out of Jesus’ mouth into our own hands, and reach for our own sturdy work clothes and boots instead and get busy building righteousness and faithfulness in the land…
How would God have you pull on your own sturdy work clothes and boots and get busying building righteousness and faithfulness in the land? Where can you get busy today?
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.