Very Different Kingdoms
Thursday - June 25th Scripture to Read for Today's Devotional: 1 Peter 2:9-10
Today's Selection from our Sermon on the Mount Reading Plan: Matthew 5:27-32
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
The last person to receive a Civil War pension died last month at the age of 90. Irene Triplett, who just passed, received a check for $73.13 every month as a dependent of a Civil War veteran. Her father, Mose Triplett, served as a private in the Confederate Army before deserting and shifting his allegiances to the Union Army. Irene, his daughter, suffered from cognitive impairments from birth that qualified her for a pension as the helpless child of a veteran.
The fact that Triplett was receiving a Civil War pension in 2020 owed much to the advanced age of her father, who was 83 when his second wife, 34-year-old Elida Hall, gave birth to their daughter in 1930. Such marriages were fairly common during the Great Depression. Civil War veterans' pensions offered financial security to younger women willing to take care of aging husbands. Mose died in 1938 at age 92. Elida died in 1967. From the time of her mother's death, Irene had lived in several different homes for adults affected by cognitive impairments until her death in May at 90.
Mose Triplett abandoned the South by slipping away from a Confederate military hospital days before the Battle of Gettysburg. If he had not deserted the South and joined the North, he would more than likely have died at Gettysburg. Over 92% of his former confederate unit was killed that July of 1863. Had he not switched sides during the war, the last recipient of a Civil War Veteran's pension would have been a son of a veteran who died in the late 1990s.
Without knowing the odds, he would have faced at Gettysburg, Mose Triplett decided the North's cause was a just cause. He later described his transition from the Confederacy to the Union as moving "from darkness to light." As he looked back, he could not understand why he ever joined the South in its rebellion. The contrast seemed so clear to him after he made the move.
In 1 Peter 2:9-10, Peter goes to great lengths to describe the difference in who we are now in Christ and who we were in our sin before coming to Christ. He reminds us that through Jesus, we are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession" (v.9). He continues by drawing the contrast further as he says, "Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (v.10). The one distinction Peter gives that has helped me the most in understanding the difference sits in the middle of these two verses. He says that God has called us "out of darkness into his wonderful light" (v.9).
The Apostle Peter delineates so clearly the distinction between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light. The kingdom of darkness represents the kingdom of humanity and its sin. The wonderful, marvelous realm of light represents the Kingdom of Christ. Satan does all he can to stir up man's greed, lust, and pride to keep as many people trapped in the kingdom of darkness as possible. He wants no one to move to the realm of Christ's light.
When Jesus prayed in the Lord's prayer, "Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven," He drew attention to the same contrast Peter expressed. The Kingdom of God offers us radically different values and priorities to the selfish and destructive values our world celebrates. As we follow Christ's example of prayer, we too should ask for God's will and Kingdom to settle more and more on earth. As we pray for Christ's Kingdom to come here on earth, we pray that we will be channels of that Kingdom's values in our daily lives. We want the light of Christ to spread through us and how we live.
Mose Triplett made a choice that changed the course of his life and the life of his daughter for decades after the Civil War. Our decisions do the same in terms of our lives. The choices we make in our relationships, what entertains us, and how we use our time and money speak volumes about which Kingdom's values drive our lives. Look at your own life. Would people say that the patterns they see in how you live reflect the light of Christ and His Kingdom or the darkness of this world? Today, think about each decision you make. With each decision and choice, do you spread the Kingdom of Heaven or the kingdom of earth?
As we pray for God's Kingdom and will to spread here on earth, are we reflecting Christ’s light in our lives?