Summary: The Beatitudes flow out of each other. Our poverty of spirit leads to our mourning, and teaches us to live meek. But this is often the missing link in the life of a Christian. This message explores Jesus’ teaching on meekness in the Sermon on the Mount
(Opened message with BlueFishTV Video Clip depicting a church service similar to a Football Telecast)
Quite a production the church has become. Visit the right congregation on the right Sunday, and you will feel like you have fallen into a happening similar to the Super Bowl, or a UK basketball game. It is more than a worship service. It is an event. Can I say it without cringing? A production.
And it seems hard to imagine that what the church has so often become is what Jesus had in mind as the make-up of Christ followers when He sat down on that mountainside, and began his first sermon by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” And I think it is especially a contrast to this third beatitude, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Listen to some of these quotes, and see if they fit your initial picture of meek living.
“Our mission is simple. It is to mobilize Christians one precinct at a time, one community at a time, until once again we are the head and not the tail, and at the top rather than the bottom of our political system. We will be the most powerful political force in America by the end of this decade. We have enough votes to run this country, and when the people say, ’We’ve had enough, we’re going to take over!”
Strike you as what Jesus might have meant by living meek? That was Pat Robertson referring to the Christian Coalition. How about this one -
“I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good. Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.”
Sound like a match to being poor in spirit, mournful, meek? That was the founder of the “Christian” pro-life movement Operation Rescue, Randall Terry. How about one more –
“It’s like guerrilla warfare. If you reveal your location, all it does is allow your opponent to improve his artillery bearings. It’s better to move quietly, with stealth, under cover of night. You’ve got two choices: You can wear cammies and shimmy along on your belly, or you can put on a red coat and stand up for everyone to see. It comes down to whether you want to be the British army in the Revolutionary War or the Viet Cong. History tells us which tactic was more effective.”
How comfortable are you equating the suggestion that the Christian movement should operate like the Viet Cong in light of Jesus teaching, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”? That last quote was from a Christian politician you might remember named Ralph Reed.
Now contrast those quotes with the following quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A man who left safety and seclusion to return to his home country of Germany in the midst of the Nazi regime. A man who believed in standing for the Kingdom, but took a very different approach to it. Listen to his words as he reflects on Jesus call to character in the beatitudes (read p. 109 & 110 - The Cost of Discipleship).
It is obvious, just a few sentences in to the Sermon on the Mount, that the life that Jesus is picturing. The life that Jesus is defining. That He is calling those who would be His disciples to live is counter culture. I’ve already said it a dozen times. Each step into this life is a step towards Christ, and a step away from the world.
And while it may take considerable effort to find the first two beatitudes blooming in the gardens of most Christians and churches, by the time we get to this third piece, we have definitely found a missing link between the life that Jesus described, and the life most of us are living. And that missing link is living meek.
The world thinks in terms of strength and power. Of ability. Of self-assurance and aggressiveness. That is the world’s idea of conquest and possession. Only the strong survive. It is survival of the. . .fittest.
And Matthew, which was written largely for the Jewish community, was speaking to people that saw it much the same way. The kingdom view that the Jews were holding for their long awaited Messiah was not only a physical reign on the earth, but even a militaristic reign on the earth. When the Messiah came, He was going to conquer, led them into victory, and take the land.