Summary: Meekness as demonstrated by Jesus Christ is a key part of the character of a Christian. If meekness is not for wimps, then what is it...really?
CATM Sermon - October 2, 2005 - Mighty Meekness
J. Upton Dickson was a fun-loving fellow who said he was writing a book entitled Cower Power. He also founded a group of submissive people. It was called DOORMATS. That stands for “Dependent Organization of Really Meek And Timid Souls” Their motto was: “The meek shall inherit the earth, if that’s okay with everybody”. Their symbol was the yellow traffic light.
An old cartoon shows people demonstrating. The person in front in holding a sign reading "Please Support the Meek". Other signs in the protest march by the meek read: "Pardon Us", "No Offense Meant", "We Don’t Mean to be Pushy", and "A Modest Slice of the Pie for the Shy".
And finally, someone has said, “"Of course the meek will inherit the earth, what, did you think they’d take it by force?"
One of the synonyms that people associate with meekness is wimpiness. Some see meekness as an excuse for spinelessness and fragility. Of course, the truth is the opposite. Today’s passage challenges some very basic assumptions. We believe that power is what it takes to claim ground in this world. We think that military might, strong, persuasive leadership and a single-minded dogged focus on objectives is what yields results.
And then we’re faced with realties that don’t fit that model. Iraq has shown the weakness of the most powerful nation on earth. Since victory was declared by President Bush, hundreds and hundreds of American soldiers have died. Soldiers of the most powerful nation in he world tortured and abused helpless prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison. Thousands upon thousands of Iraqi fighters and innocents have died. Iraq is just this side of plunging into civil war. God help them.
We’ve seen how the use of force at the end of the second world war in the defeat of Japan created moral questions that are still being asked today. Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Cities filled with innocent civilians. Was it right to kill 200,000 people to avoid the deaths of potentially millions more in a drawn out land battle? Those who live by the sword need to keep asking that kind of question if they are to remain human.
Whenever the choice is made to use power to resolve conflict, wounds are created in the soul of the nation that exercises that power.
But there is another way. It is not the way of war, of the brutal use of power. It is a way that doesn’t create “collateral damage”, which is the power-lingo for children and moms dying in battle.
It is the way of meekness. What is meekness, really? There’s one passage of Scripture that provides what I think is the best definition of meekness:
Col 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
I watched a brilliant film with my son Jared a short while ago called, “Downfall”. It is about the last ten
days of Hilter’s Nazi Germany, the last ten days in an underground bunker when the realization of the colossal failure of Nazism and of its war efforts was dawning on Germany’s leaders at the time. At one point, Hitler says, “Compassion is an eternal sin. To feel compassion for the weak is a betrayal of nature. The strong can only triumph if the weak are exterminated”.
That is, of course, the voice of hell, the wisdom of Satan. It is ‘survival of the fittest’ at its worst.
To be meek in the sense meant by Jesus in our passage today is to have compassion on others. Compassion means “Suffering with”, it is the courage to put oneself in the situation of another and feel what they feel and as a result be moved, and changed. Meekness is power under control, and meekness is exercised in compassion.
God’s compassion for us is rooted in his deep love for you and me and his sensitivity to our pain. It was compassion that caused God to walk among us in Jesus Christ. It was compassion that brought the Son of God near to us and into the human experience. And the Christ we worship and pray to, never forget, is the Christ who has been on our side of the tracks, so to speak. The one you pray to has breathed the air you breathe, he drank the water we drink. He KNOWS first hand the sufferings and temptations and hardship of life.
That’s why the author of Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”. Heb 4:15-16