Summary: Part 3 in Sermon on the Mount Series, looking at the meaning of meek.
"The Who Shall Inherit the What?"
Rev. Denn Guptill, BCC, Sept. 29 1996
If you were to survey a select group of people in 38 countries asking them this question, "Taking all things together, would you say you are: 1) not at all happy, 2) not very happy or 3) quite happy or very happy" where do you think Canada would rank. First? Fifth? Tenth? How about twenty first? Iceland was first, the Netherlands were fifth and Britain was tenth. Only 78.4 percent of Canadians surveyed responded with number three. Compare that to 97 percent in Iceland, 93.1 percent in Northern Ireland, and 81.4 percent in Turkey. Now personally I would have thought it would have been easier to be happy in Canada say then in Northern Ireland where people blow up buildings or other people. Maybe it’s because we define happy in different terms.
However the quest for "Happy" isn’t necessarily a new thing, in the first twelve verses of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talks about this elusive quality of happiness. You say "that’s nice a sermon about being happy" and really for a lot of people that is their view of Jesus, someone who makes you happy. Almost sounds like Aladdin’s genie. And yet the views that Jesus is espousing here are anything but nice because they don’t line up at all with our concepts of happiness.
What is happy? Good question, In last May’s issue of "Psychological Science," David Myers of Michigan’s Hope College and Ed Diener of the University of Illinois both psychologists co-authored an article entitled "Who is Happy?" And this is some of what they discovered.
No time of life is notably happier or unhappier than any other.
There is little difference in happiness between black and white Americans
Wealthy Americans are only marginally happier then poor Americans
Lottery winners are initially elated but the feeling soon wears off
A "Psychology Today" article on happiness a number of years back was based on a survey of 5,200 readers and while they didn’t discover what happiness was they did come to some conclusions about unhappiness the biggest being that unhappiness was "Wanting what I don’t have but think that you do" It kind of reminds me of the story of the lady in California who wanted to be buried in her Rolls Royce. Well they were lowering the car into the grave with a crane one grave digger said to the other one, "now that’s living!"
The one thing that we discover in the Sermon on the Mount is that real happiness is a result not a goal, you find it when you are looking for something else and the something else that you need to be looking for is the Kingdom of God. Matthew 6:33 (NIV) But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So if you are devoting your life to the pursuit of happiness you have as much chance as you would pursuing the Holy Grail, we know that it should be out there some where but we just can’t seem to find it. By the way the Holy Grail is supposedly the cup that Christ used in the last supper.
And so Christ begins by telling us Happy are those who are poor in spirit, and Happy are those who mourn. Not your average everyday concept of happiness is it? And now Christ adds to those thoughts these words Matthew 5:5 (NIV) Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Now that’s a radical concept isn’t it? Blessed are the meek. That statement is totally contradictory to our entire way of thinking. If we were to develop a western beatitude it would be "Happy are the aggressor" We are aggressive in everything we do, from business to sports to women’s lib to evangelism. And if you’re not aggressive then you can take aggressiveness training and learn to be aggressive, and you can let people know what you want, how you want it and when you want it and start getting your own way. We figure that if the meek are going to inherit the earth it’s only because nobody else will want it in the shape it’s in. For most of us, meek means weak and none of us wants to be thought of as weak. You probably won’t find a pile of people lined up for "Meekness Training"
And so when we hear that meekness is to be desired we say that’s rubbish or as Nietzsche said "I regard it as the most fatal and seductive lie that ever existed." To be frank a lot of people feel the words of Christ at this point are at the best a mistake and at the worst a deliberate lie. Our experience has shown us that the meek won’t inherit the earth. The multinational corporations, the slick politicians, the multi-married movie stars, the porno producers, the military dictators, they are the ones who will inherit the earth. There doesn’t seem to be much hope that we’ll hear let alone heed Christ’s third suggestion for happiness.