Summary: In the face of danger, Isaiah proclaims that there will come a time when peace will reign and swords shall be beaten into plowshares
Life is lived in paradox. When writing about Christian liberty, Martin Luther identified a striking paradox. He wrote, “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject of all, subject to all.”
We daily live in the reality that God is at the same time transcendent and immanent.
There is not paradox as starkly contradictory as the one contained in our lesson for today. In the middle of a war and siege, Isaiah envisions a time of peace, when swords are made into plowshares. Like the Israelites so long ago, we find ourselves living in times of conflict, while at the same time longing for peace.
As people of faith, can we live in this paradox? Is it possible to experience peace in the middle of conflict? Or, does conflict eliminate all hope of peace?
PEACE WITH GOD
A central tenet of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus humankind has peace with God. Our rebelliousness separated us from God—breaking and bruising the relationship that God sought to establish with us. Jesus reconciled us with God. That reconciliation brings peace with it.
We continue to struggle with our rebellious natures. Though the continuous experience of confession, repentance, and forgiveness peace is able reestablished in our lives.
Frequently we are angry with God because God doesn’t do what we want God to do. This causes us to complain instead of offering thanksgiving and praise. We can experience peace in our lives by yielding our will to God and acknowledging God’s presence and movement in our lives. The fruit of the peace that we experience is a sense of thankfulness.
PEACE WITH OURSELVES
It has been said that there are times when we are our own worst enemies. Most of us would agree that this is true. Many of us are our harshest critics. The words of judgment and ridicule are stronger than we would express toward anyone else. Peace—acceptance of who we are—seems like an unreachable goal.
Some people attempt to cover up their self-contempt with a false sense of pride. They glory in what they have accomplished and seek the admiration and approval of others for the businesses they have been, the houses in which they live, the cars they drive, and the clothes they wear. Psychologists tell us that usually such demonstrations of pride cover us a deep sense of inferiority and insecurity.
We can experience peace, not by what we do, but rather by who we are. At our baptism God proclaims, “This is my child, in whom I am well pleased. We are God’s children.
God also proclaims that God will always love us and that there is absolutely nothing that will ever separate us from God’s love.
Even though we still have our foibles—we’re too fat, too skinny, too short, or too tall—we are able to live in the peace that comes with being children of God who are steadfastly loved by God.
PEACE WITH OTHERS
There are deep divisions among us, which bring conflict with them. Peace can still be experienced among us—if we choose the path of peace.
Peace comes from acknowledging that we are all human and that we are much more alike each other than we are different from each other.
Peace comes from living in the reality that we are all children of God. There are not “them” and “us.” There is only “we.”
When we allow these truths to affect our words and our deeds in regards to others, we can live in peace.
Isaiah’s prophecy that the Lord would deliver Jerusalem and the Israelites from the Assyrian army proved true. The peace was short lived, though. After a few decades passed, the Babylonian army was at the gates of Jerusalem. That time they broached the city walls and took the people captive.
The peace that we experience in our relationship with God, ourselves and others, does not mean that we will escape conflict and live happily ever after—like some fairy tale. It does mean that even in the midst of difficult times and hopeless situations, peace can still be a part of our lives. It is a peace that passes understanding and a peace that no one can take away from us.