"Blessed are the meek."
The more I meditate on the beatitudes and prayer through them the more I realize that my natural first response to them is "Really! Jesus you've gotta be kidding." They just go against the grain of how I've been encultured to think and act. Think about it with me. Happy are those who do not possess power over others. Happy are those who are not trying to attain possessions so that they can show the world their worth. Happy are those who are not climbing the ladder of position so that they can make things happen. Happy are the meek. Is it possible to be any more counter cultural?
When we think about those in our world who have the ability to get something done, we don't envision "meekness." When Steve Jobs passed, so many were singing his praises about all he had done. But with that they were talking about his character. Meek? Not! Not even close.
But Jesus said that the meek are blessed because they will inherit the earth. In the context of first century Judaism, this has connotations of the physical land of Israel, the promised land and the restoration of the people of God. Jesus is announcing the way that God will fulfill his promises to the people of God. He will give them the land as they live out meekness, not as they live out the cultural practices of power, possessions, and position.
Jesus' words fly in the face of all we have been taught about how to get the best things in life. The usual pattern is that we set a goal before us, then we develop a strategy for attaining that goal and then we work that strategy. That's the way to "attain the land." But here Jesus tells us that the meek will "inherit the land." It is a gift, not something we make happen.
This makes me wonder how much we miss because we are going after what we can attain instead of waiting on the inheritance, the gift that is simply ours because we are children of the King. Of course the inheritance never comes in the form or as quickly as we would like. Maybe that's the reason we take the short-cut route of attaining, which means that we usually go after things like power, possessions and position, all the while praising God that we attained them.
While Jesus' words go against the way things seem to work in our culture, when I get beneath the surface, I realize that Jesus is only pointing out the reality of how life best works. Being meek is really about learning to be ourselves so that we no longer have to work to attain or power, possessions and position. We are free to be ourselves, in all our weakness. Being meek is about being ourselves so that we can allow what's truly in us to shine forth. Here we inherit the gift of being ourselves and the freedom to live how God created us to live. Or as Eugene Peterson translates this verse: "You’re blessed when you’re
content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you
find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought."
This life goes against the grain of our culture, but with the grain of our nature.