Meditations for Troubled Times
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5:6-9)
“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:12-13)
When I was in high school, our drama club put on the play The Terrible Meek by playwright Charles Rann Kennedy written in 1912. There were three actors: a soldier, a woman, and a captain. It was acted mostly in the dark. These lines and more were quite unsettling to me at the time since I had not come to Christ.
“Captain: In the city I come from, it is the chief concern of the people. Building kingdoms, rule, empire. They're proud of it. The little children in the schools are drilled in obedience to it: they are taught hymns in praise of it: they are brought up to reverence its symbols. When they wave its standard above them, they shout, they leap, they make wild and joyful noises, like animals, like wolves, like little brute beasts. Children! Young children! Their parents encourage them in it: it never occurs to them to feel ashamed: they would be treated like lepers if they felt ashamed. That's what empire does to human beings in the city I come from. It springs from fear — a peculiar kind of fear they call courage.
And so we go on building our kingdoms — the kingdoms of this world. We stretch out our hands- greedy, grasping, tyrannical- to possess the earth. Domination, power, glory, money, merchandise, luxury- these are the things we aim at. But what we really gain is pest and famine, grudge labor, the en-slaved hate of men and women, ghosts, dead and death-breathing ghosts that haunt our lives forever. It can't last: it never has lasted, this building in blood and fear. Already our kingdoms begin to crumble. We have lost both earth and ourselves in trying to possess it; for the soul of the earth is man and the love of him, and we have made of both, a desolation.
I tell you, woman, this dead son of yours, dis-figured, shamed, spat upon, has built a kingdom this day that can never die. The living glory of him rules it. The earth is his and he made it. He and his brothers have been molding and making it through the long ages. They are the only ones who ever really did possess it: not the proud, not the idle, not the wealthy, not the vaunting empires of the world. Something has happened up here on this hill today to shake all our kingdoms of blood and fear to the dust. The earth is his, the earth is theirs, and they made it. The meek, the terrible meek, the fierce agonizing meek, are about to enter into their inheritance.”
I have no idea if this writer ever embraced Christ, but I think his perspective was that the world kingdom-building is a result of aggressiveness and oppression and not what he refers to as terrible meekness. We, on the other hand, are called by the Holy Spirit to grow in gentleness. Meekness (or gentleness) looks to a future hope of a Kingdom that is built on Christ’s own blood rather than seeking our own notoriety or building some great empire.
Dr. Richard’s sermon was direct about how we should forgive each other and seek reconciliation as Colossians 3 exhorts us to do. A culture of caring for one another shows the world that Christ’s gentleness is a priority. Jesus says He is gentle and lowly. Is that what people in Douglasville see in us? Would they say we are gentle and lowly? Every believer is called to be gentle with one another. Has Christ extended His gentleness to you? You must do the same to others. Think about the gentle words Christ said on the cross. Being meek is a fruit that propels our actions heavenward. Is there someone at Grace or in your family with which you have not been gentle? Have you muttered ill will privately towards someone? Do our relationships with one another say to the world, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest?” I ask you to think of the life of the Terrible Meek and follow Christ.
(The King James Version in Psalm 145:6 refers to God as “terrible,” what Rev. Joel Smit referred to as God being “awesome.”)