Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
I spent this morning on the phone with my internet provider, haggling over a misunderstood bill that had resulted in the temporary death of connectivity in our house. In a word, I would say I was frustrated. In more than one word, I would describe my emotions as boiling over like an out of control volcano that was on the verge of erupting in a profanity-laced tirade. The first fruits of volcanic ash had already bellowed forth from my lips.
On second thought, perhaps the word frustrated doesn’t quite get at my emotional state. Perhaps a more accurate description would be irate.
And on top of banging my head against a proverbial wall in a never-ending matrix of misery for an hour or so, I knew that today was the day I needed to write about this helpful little promise from Jesus. Really? The meek shall inherit the earth? Who would buy that? When have we ever seen that happen? Power is the only ticket into inheritance in a world where the rich get richer and the poor must fight for everything they own.
I would say that I was frustrated at the prospect of writing this reflection, but again, perhaps irritated may be a more accurate description. But leaving aside my own irritation at what would better be categorized as inconvenience rather than injustice, Jesus’ departure from reality seems to stand out, written in blinking, neon lights. What hope is there for a survivor of abuse, a victim of violence, one whose voice has been silenced by those in power, to know that the meek inherit the earth?
Say what you will about Jesus’ strategy on this point, but one thing is clear. He lived a life that defined–among many attributes–meekness. This is the same teacher who had arrived on the scene thirty years prior, stripping himself of the honors of divinity. This promise comes from somebody who empties himself all the way down from the right hand of the throne of God to the form of a servant. Then he submits himself to death. This is what it is to be meek.
In the economy of the Kingdom, the way up is down and the way down is up. Only in this context do Jesus’ words hint at a kind of life grander, more glorious, than we have grown to imagine.
He does not play in the way we might expect a king to play.
Once again, we are invited to imagine a world that we had once abandoned as a hopeless dream. We are invited to play with a God who gives the whole world to the meek, to the humble, to the gentle, to the disenfranchised.
Whether our days are stained with injustice or with inconvenience, I wonder what it would look like if we would play with these words of Jesus. What if it were true, right now, that it is the meek who are coming into their inheritance, while the powerful miss out on what they always assumed they would own?
How surprising would a church of the meek be to the onlooking world? What if we chose a different way?