The Peaceable Kingdom

By Andy McQuitty
In eLetter
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ast Sunday I had the privilege of preaching what I consider the Apostle Paul’s greatest formulation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21:

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We Christ-followers are then, in the words of the song we sang Sunday, redeemed to redeem, loved that we may love one another, and pursued that we might pursue the Kingdom of Heaven! That coming Kingdom is God’s Peaceable Kingdom which is marked by peace and reconciliation in the midst of our world which is marked by hostility and enmity.

In 1833 a pastor-painter named Edward Hicks (1780-1849) took a shot at imagining what God’s Kingdom might look like in his work, “The Peaceable Kingdom” (1833).

Edward Hicks - Peaceable Kingdom

Hicks based his rendering of God’s peaceable Kingdom on this passage from the prophet Isaiah:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them...They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6, 9)

I find it interesting that Hicks also incorporated a vignette of William Penn's treaty with the Indians as an image of the peaceable kingdom on earth!

Now such a picture of Heaven is not fully realizable until the end of days and the New Heaven and Earth. Yet we still pray “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and thus commit ourselves to fashioning foretastes of God’s Peaceable Kingdom to come. That's the real reason we've been left in this world. The only thing we do here that we can only do here is the ministry of reconciliation! Hence our mission in the Church is clear from Paul, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

Jesus, Son of God, Savior, came to establish a new Kingdom in this world that, as He said, is not of this world. It’s made up of all who are reconciled to God by Christ. The eternal and yet to be consummated Kingdom of Heaven is every tongue, tribe, and nation as one giving glory to God. Our job now as the Church is to pull back glimpses of that Heavenly scene into time by putting God’s peaceable kingdom on display in the church! How do we do that? By serving as Christ’s ambassadors of grace, reconciliation, and peace. As Mike Gerson writes:

“The greatest and most powerful Christian distinctive is not the exercise of power; it is the offer of grace.” CT October 26, 2015

Your Grace-Offering Ambassador,

Pastor Andy

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