Giving Shalom: Advent Day 20

“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.
   He is my chosen one, who pleases me.
I have put my Spirit upon him.
   He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout
   or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
   or put out a flickering candle.
   He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
He will not falter or lose heart
   until justice prevails throughout the earth.
   Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.” (Isaiah 42:1–4 NLT)

As Timothy Keller puts it in his book Generous Justice, “Most people know that Jesus came to bring forgiveness and grace. Less well known is the biblical teaching that a true experience of the grace of Jesus Christ inevitably motivates a man or woman to seek justice in the world.” The opening verses in Isaiah 42 tell us that God’s heart is to see justice ring out among the nations. If we are to actively follow in the footsteps of the Messiah, we too will seek justice where God has placed us, to follow this God-given drive to plant the seeds of shalom in our lives and in the world around us, but that cannot happen without first experiencing the grace of God in the deepest recesses of our souls.

As they kept an eye out for the coming Messiah, the people of Israel anticipated the day they would experience freedom from their oppressors, the Roman Empire, but they sought justice on their terms, not God’s. They expected a ruler to come in physical power, a king who would rule through strength and the sword, not a King who would spend His years in ministry preaching love and grace, healing the sick, and eating with outcasts and sinners.

The people of Israel were so focused on a king coming in power that many of them failed to see the grander story of grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation that God was unfolding in their midst. Is there an area of your life in which you are attempting to short circuit God at work, looking toward the end result rather than accepting the full journey God has placed in front of you?