Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Our reading for this week from Isaiah 64:17-25 describes a world that has been reconciled - to one another and to God. In effect, the final reconciliation is an undoing of the curse of sin. There will be no need for things like death. There will be no competition between species. The idea of killing animals for food will go away, even among the carnivorous animals! They simply won't have that desire.
The second half of verse 18 is of special note. What did God create his people, and especially his holy city, Jerusalem, to be? A place of joy, and a people who bring forth gladness.
This is what the Church is to look like in these last days. It is to be a place of joy and gladness, and to bring that joy and gladness to the world. There isn't any way around this. God's people are a source of joy. God rejoices in them, and the rest of the world can too.
Why do we fall so short of this goal? It is surely because we try to do things in our own power and our own authority, rather than trusting in the power and authority of God. When we try to build our structures, legalistic means, all of them - to teach us and others how to do what is good and right, we reach the conclusion that we can keep God's law and do something worthy of merit. In the end, that always collapses under its own weight.
Rather, if we want to make a difference in our world, we do it not in our own power but by trusting in Jesus, who will accomplish all good things through his Church. We never count on ourselves, but only on Jesus.
Jesus is the one who can take a people, reconcile them to God, and make them good for something in this world. And we are especially good for the very simple task of loving and serving our neighbors. If we love God with all our heart and love our neighbors as ourselves, we will accomplish great things for the Lord.
May the Lord God who has reconciled us to himself through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God the Son, use us as His redeemed people, to show the joy and delight of the resurrection to all nations.
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