Saturday, July 30, 2016

30 July 2016
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” Matthew5:5 (NRSV)
            I feel as though I should apologize for yesterday’s blog; not my best work. I don’t want to say it is easier to ‘spiritualize’ the Bible; scripture and its interpretation is always serious business. At times though, ‘spiritualizing’ is certainly less difficult than finding practical, day to day application, which after all is my purpose here. So for those of you who have returned today, thank you.
            Today we look at meekness. defines meek as:
1. humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.
2. overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame.
3. obsolete. Gentile; kind.
Ironically, the obsolete definition seems most appropriate here. Jesus Himself says “…I am gentile and humble in heart” (Matthew11:29, NRSV). Humble, patient, gentile, kind are all fitting and proper words to describe the Jesus we see in the Gospels. Another aspect of meekness involves not having an agenda-hidden or otherwise-or, perhaps better said, not forcing an agenda, or a point of view, or opinion.
            Now, from a spiritual perspective as it applies to our salvation-that is, our redemption and restoration-not having an agenda is most important. That is to say, we do not set the terms nor dictate to God what we will or will not do to be saved. The plan is His; the work is His; our job is simply to believe and accept. We also see an interesting parallel in Jesus’ ministry here. While Jesus definitely had an agenda, He never forced Himself on His listeners. He taught, He healed, He fed; in all these things He proclaimed and demonstrated the Kingdom presence and left it out there, for people to accept or reject. For the most part, the poor in spirit and meek accepted Him better than the proud and self-righteous. And here we see the application-in our spiritual lives our day to day lives as we interact with God and each other.
            First, we must make the distinction between seeking God’s will and asking God to bless our will. This blog is an example-the idea had been lurking in the back of my mind for probably a year or more before I finally started writing. And while I hope with all my heart for God’s blessing-that He will speak to someone through me-I will not continue if and when I sense His disapproval. I also hope to accurately and faithfully represent Him her, as opposed to my interpretation of Him, although some of that will certainly come through.
            Our current political situation-indeed, the very notion of culture wars and how the church should respond-is another area pregnant with possibilities for the discipline of meekness. Now, I have no intention of delving deeply into the political controversy or taking sides or anything like that. Nor do I have any desire to criticize any segment of the church, which would amount to pushing an agenda-the very antithesis of meekness. But, as a practical exercise, I might suggest taking some time to be alone with God and asking Him to show you if you are genuinely seeking His thoughts or merely asking His blessing for your thoughts. One is sowing to the flesh; the other sowing to the Spirit. Perhaps you could pick a point on which you refuse to budge and ask God to show you what the other side is thinking. Another practical but unrelated exercise would be to spend a day-as much as is possible for you in your situation-without an agenda, letting others dictate the course of things, going with the flow. You may find there is great relief in relinquishing some control to others, in not having to be in control of everything all the time.
            Finally, commenting on the Sermon in general and the Beatitudes in particular, Haley’s Bible Handbook says “Jesus wants to bless Christians so that unbelievers will be drawn to them, and consequently the unbeliever can be led to salvation in Christ”. This is the point and the goal. We are beginning to see a picture emerge of the kind of people Jesus wants in His church, as His representatives. Humility, empathy, meekness emerge as the antidote to power, wealth, force of will. A picture of leading by example rather than authority. These are the people Jesus chooses to represent Him, to whom He promises an inheritance-and what an inheritance it will be. Much more can be said; I leave it to you to discover for yourselves the direction God would have you go here.
             One word of caution for those who would seek to practice the discipline of meekness. Remember-baby steps. This was a radical notion then and it is a radical notion now. Abundant grace will be required-and given. After all, discovering and accepting our need for God in all things-God who is present to us at all times and in all places-is the beginning, the journey, and the end.

May The Lord bless you and keep you this day. Don’t forget to spend time in worship with your brothers and sisters tomorrow. Lord willing, I will see you all Monday. JRG

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