are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Jesus first told us that we were blessed, highly favored and truly joyful, in our response to his call to be poor in spirit; that is, to find our place with him on the margins of society (Matthew 5:3). He then gave us his blessing for seeing the suffering of others on the margins and refusing any longer to ignore, deny, or justify it (v. 4). Today he invites us to enjoy with him the blessing of meekness, gentleness, humility, tenderness (5).
Because Jesus was fully divine, he could accomplish God’s judgment of a world in rebellion against him by bearing this judgment himself. Because Jesus was fully human, he could defeat sin where it ruled, in our world and flesh. By choosing freely in love to die on the cross, Jesus humbled himself, the living God willed to be regarded as a sinner, in order to bear and bear away the fatal consequences of our rebellion. Through his voluntary suffering, we were healed.
To be humble means to ask not “what’s in this for me?” as an Olympian understandably would. It means to ask, “how might I bear the clearest possible witness to Jesus Christ in this circumstance?” It means being Christ-centered rather than self-centered.
Clearly, being humble, gentle, meek, or tender rules out the use of coercion. We witness to the false Olympian gods rather than to Jesus when we try to force others to think, speak, or behave to our liking but their hurt. Jupiter justifies torture anytime our political advantage seems to call for it or simply allows us to do it. Mars would have all objections to our commands settled with threats of violence. He happily rationalizes murder by calling it “collateral damage.” Vulcan constantly develops new ways for us to force others to conform to our expectations. Venus has us intimidating others to satisfy our self-centered sexual fantasies. Pluto justifies harming other people and God’s good creation to make more money. Bacchus encourages us to enjoy consumer goods made cheaper through the exploitation of laborers.
Jesus gives us every place on Earth where two or three of us gather in his name. He gives debt-free buildings and lands to us to gather for worship, educate, and shelter ourselves and others. In the age to come, he will give us the whole Earth.
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