Happiness is… Those Who Are Meek

By: Donnell Wyche – September 29, 2019

Preamble

We’re so glad you are here with us this morning. We’re grateful for you and the gifts of God that you bring with you into this space. As a church we partner with the liberating presence of God to cultivate joy, hope & belonging as Jesus invites us into freedom, keeps us free, and helps us free others. We pray that whether this is your first time with us this morning, or you’ve been a part of our community for a while, that you will feel the invitation of the Holy Spirit to join in with our vision. If you are looking for a church home, we would love to be your church home, and I, in particular would love to become your pastor.

Jesus has gathered a large crowd because of his proclamation and demonstration of the kingdom of God. In the crowd are all sort of folks, folks from every walk of life. The crowd is full of sinners of all types, sizes, and colors–there are tax collectors, prostitutes, Gentiles, and the really really religious. As you enter into the text with me, imagine that this audience represents the full spectrum of the human experience. Each of them there with their own story, their own understanding of God, themselves, and how they fit within God’s larger the story of creation. When he saw the crowds that gathered to hear him teach, he went up on a mountainside, a hotbed of terrorist activity, and began to teach them. It’s here that he announces…

Blessed…or Happy….

  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Jesus wasn’t giving us a new list of moral virtues that mark the person who is welcomed in the Kingdom. He wasn’t laying out new boundaries markers of who’s in and who’s out.

I believe that Jesus was announcing something that already was. Last week we considered the second beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn…” today we consider,

  • Blessed are the meek,
  • for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

Just like last week, I’m offering that we read the beatitudes as a condition we are in instead of something we aspire to. Jesus, isn’t inviting us to find ways to be meek* in order for us to be blessed or happy. Yet, their is value in us learning from Jesus how to be gentle and humble in heart as Matthew captures it,

  • Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

In the beatitude, Jesus is saying that it isn’t the arrogant, the aggressive, the mighty, or strong who will inherit the earth. No, it’s the meek. Finally, a beatitude that seems to bless you for a desired behavior. To be blessed all you have to do is be meek.

Now, here’s a thought exercise, when’s the last time this week, someone gave you advice to just be meek (however, they come to understand and define meekness) in order for you to solve your problems. If the meek are going to inherit the earth, certainly meekness can helpful you with your daily problems.

Have a fight over money with a partner, just be meek, you will get what you need. Your boss passes you over for a promotion, when you complain to HR, they say, just be meek. Your boss will see your meekness and reward you. Your bank overdrafts your account, and the customer service reps tells you to be meek and the problem will resolve itself.

R  i    g    h    t …

Yet, Jesus says that the meek, not the arrogant, the meek, not the aggressive, the meek, not the strong or the mighty will inherit the earth. Like the previous three beatitudes this inclusion of those who were considered on the bottom of the heap would become the ones who would come out on top.

What’s Jesus doing here? I believe he is giving us a picture of community.

As we enter the text there are three ways for us to understand the meek, as the humble, as the person who seeks peace, harmony, and right-relationship between people, or what the Greek philosopher Aristotle considers the “golden mean” between two extremes.

Let’s hold these definitions in mind as we contrast the world in which we inherit them from. In Greco-Roman world, humility was a vice — it was sinful–only the wicked were humble. If you had the potential for power in the ancient world and you didn’t take it, you were considered a coward. It’s the person who has the ability to cheat others and instead of taking money from the foolish, you were honest, you would be considered a chump.

In the Greco-Roman world things moved quickly from “strong emotion straight to violence.” Because hatred and revenge weren’t things to avoid, they were the strong emotions that you had to cultivate if you wanted to survive. Only cowards and the feeble were willing to be gentle, humble, patient, forgiving, peace-seeking. How could you protect yourself or your family if you were humble, gentle, patient, or loving. Taking on these graces would get you killed in the ancient world.

The gods that were worshipped, they were ruthless too, and they expected their devotees to emulate them. Can you imagine how exhausting it would be to live in a dog-eat-dog world, where you have to be on your guard all of the time, where there was no rest or peace only strife, hostility, and violence? Into this world, Jesus announces good news,

  • Blessed are the meek,
  • for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

Sadly, we are living in a society that promotes individualism, scarcity, and competition in every aspect of life. We have been fed a lie that we are in competition with each other and God; fighting for scare resources; forcing us to be our lesser selves, as we lie, steal, and cheat, to protect ourselves our stuff, and our image of ourselves. More than that our picture of God has been distorted too because the lie says that we are in competition with God as the source of life because God is petty, afraid, and controlling.

We are always told how important we are and how much better we are than others. Within human relationships, such mentality is often expressed in terms of narcissism and arrogance. Still, such self-absorbed, self-seeking arrogance is also exercised on the communal and cultural level, especially in the form of movements of ethnic and racial discrimination, such as anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and racism.

STORY:Let me give you a simple example of self-seeking, self-interested behavior. As you know if you have been attending this fall, I’ve been biking. Last Sunday while biking home from the church I had this interaction:

A SUV entered the pedestrian crossing space as I was crossing the street.

I said, “Sir, you’re in the crosswalk.”

He said, “You aren’t going to break your neck getting around my car.”

Now I would like to you tell that the story ends here. I made my way around his car and got home safely. But the scripture says, confess your sins that you might be healed.

I said, “But you shouldn’t be in the crosswalk in the first place.”

He said, “…” I don’t know because I was biking away at that point.

I said (loudly), “You didn’t have to be a jerk about it.”

I wanted the space to cross the street safely,. He wanted the space to talk the women who arrived at the crosswalk on her scooter. For most of us it’s either I confront those who attempt to harm me or deny me or I’m a chump. But the meek have a completely different orientation. The meek arrive at this situation almost as if it is an opportunity to practice love of neighbor. A firm assertion of their human dignity without the need to change, correct, or condemn the other. We both had an expectation of entitlement, entitlement for space in the crosswalk. (He was going to have move to allow her to pass.)

Our economic policies, whether they are local, corporate, or global are manipulated in a way that places our own benefits above all else: those same themes of scarcity drive the self-interest and self-dealing. Basically, how can I get the best deal for myself. Which is in contrast to the question, how can I get the best deal for everyone involved. We witness this play out as corporations, multi-nationals, and governments skirt rules and regulations by moving either workers, their headquarters, or materials around the world to find the best deal or condition for themselves, or more importantly, for their profits. This system, when inspected, often reveals inequities and inequalities that produce wealth at the expense of the poor and the weak. This is the arrogance that leads to violence that Jesus rejects.

Hear Jesus,

  • Blessed are the meek,
  • for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

As we continue to make significant advancements in science and technology, we falsely believe that we, and we alone, are capable of fixing all of our problems which allows us to believe that we can achieve what we set our minds to, including our own happiness. This way of thinking also affects how we treat our habitat–rejecting the good world that God gave us and commanded us to care for and tend. Instead, we participate in consumption as if our natural resources are endless.

So, however, we hear and understand what Jesus is saying and doing, the meek reject this violence as the way to solve problems. The violence that they reject is physical, but it is also rejects violence in their thinking. When we consider what leads us to violence, it is our desire to protect, either ourselves, our possessions, our power, or our prestige all at the expense of others.

The meek reject violence, self-defense, and the accumulating of wealth for the sake of security. The meek’s rejection of violence doesn’t mean they take a posture of noninvolvement, instead they do what Monika Hellwig in her essay, “The Blessedness of the Meek, the Merciful, and the Peacemakers,” says, they trust God above all other options including violence. It’s as if they find themselves embedded within a story where God is able to fight for them or on their behalf.

  • The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Hear Jesus,

  • Blessed are the meek,
  • for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

Prayer Senses

Holy Spirit.Infilling of the Holy Spirit. Anxiety.Peace and perseverance. for those struggling with anxiety because of work, school, exams, medical set backs, etc., don’t give up. The Lord is with you, and He will not forsake you. Couragefor those going through tough times. The Lord is releasing boldness to stand firm and to believe that He is still good; wisdom to make good decisions. 

Forgiveness. Help to forgive family members. Resentment is holding you back from being able to heal. Healing. The Lord wants to minister to those with church hurt. He loves you so much. Exhaustion. Some of us are hurt, wounded, exhausted. Jesus invites us to come to him to find rest.

Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 4:8–12We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”

Exodus 14:14“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”