Monday, February 25, 2008

Message Given on Wednesday Feb 27th "The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth"

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth
Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Time Magazine ran an article not too long ago called, The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth. Lev Grossman writes in the article that what the world saw as being “uncool” in the 90’s is not the thing that is “cool” today. Take for example, Harry Potter which is about a secrete wizarding community and the good wizards battle the Dark Lord. The things that used to be geeky is now the things we are all into today. The geeks have one the world.

In a similar way, Jesus is telling his listeners that the “meek” will be the ones who inherit the earth. This Greek word praus used in Matthew 5:5 has been translated several different ways. It can be translated as “meek”, “humble”, or “gentle”. This is the first beatitude that we find in Matthew and not in Luke. However, there is a startling similarity between this beatitude and the first one we studied, “Blessed is the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.”

The reason scholars believe there is a similarity in these two beatitudes is because of two Old Testament verses. Isaiah 61:1, which is the foundation of the first beatitude, uses the same Greek word for “poor” in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT) as does Psalm 37:11, which is the foundation for the third beatitude. This is because the Hebrew word anav means “poor, afflicted, humble, and meek.”

Psalm 37 may be helpful to us as we uncover what it truly means to be “meek” Psalm 37:8-11 says,

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.

Notice first, this Psalm defines the meek as being the people who cease from anger when the people around them are doing evil things to get ahead in life. Psalm 37 begins by telling the reader not to fret about people who do wrong when they seem to be the ones getting ahead. In the end, it will be the meek who inherit the land.

The Second thing Psalm 37 says about being meek is that we have to wait on the Lord instead of giving in to the temptation to get ahead with evil. The psalm goes on to say that the wicked will get what they have coming.

Erik Kolbell is correct when he summarizes the meaning of “meek” in the Old Testament as “quiet perseverance in the face of brute rage.” It is being able to trust that no matter what circumstance we are faced with and how badly our situation seems, that God will one day intervene. It calls for the followers of God to be patient and wait on God to act rather than sinking down to the level of those who use evil to get ahead.[i]

I am not a political analyst nor do I pretend to be, but it seems to me that at times our country jumps the gun (literally speaking) in certain places. After 9/11, we had the whole world on our side, but we were so caught up in getting revenge for the awful things that happened on Sept. 11th, that we caused the world to turn against us. We sunk down to the level of the terrorist who attacked us. Being “meek” is when we are able to stay above board and trust God rather than our might to solve situations.

The word praus, according to William Barclay can also refer to the taming of a wild animal. If we are to become meek, we have to tame ourselves. We have to become entirely self-controlled. We have to control our natural urges to seek revenge and allow God to deal with the situation.

The Land

In the Old Testament land is a huge deal. The Hebrew word for land is erets and is used around 230 times in the book of Deuteronomy alone. Throughout the book of Deuteronomy and the Old Testament, Israel is promised that if they will obey the laws of God then they will live well in the land. If they break the laws, however, the land would spit them out.

As the Old Testament story continues on, we see Israel being disobedient to God until they are finally sent off into exile. Psalm 37, which we look at a earlier may have been written while Israel was in exile as a way of saying that the Jews should be patient and be meek and God will deliverer you back to their land.

When Jesus comes on the scene, the Jews are back in their land, but they are under foreign rule. Jesus is telling them that they can inherit the land again, if thy will allow God to rule them again.

True Humility

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says, “According to the Christian teaches, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastely, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”[ii]

Lewis is very hard on the attitude of pride and for good reason. Pride is the very thing that leads us into sin and away from God. If we want to live in a relationship with God, the one thing God cannot live with is our pride. Pride is placing ourselves as the supreme ruler of our lives instead of God. Pride is what leads to the destruction of our relationships. Humility is so important because it is the thing that trumps pride. Humility means to admit that we are human and that God is the lord of our lives. It means to step aside and let God have full control of us.

Lewis goes on to say that truly humble people do not beat themselves up either. He suggests that a person who is humble will be someone who you have a conversation with and realize that they said nothing about themselves because they were so interested in you. This is important because humility does not mean degrading yourself. We can have a good, healthy self-esteem and still be humble before God. Honestly, when we degrade ourselves we are looking for assurance from others. God wants us to be thankful for the gifts and graces we have. God just wants us to allow God to control our lives and uses these gifts and graces for God’s glory and for the building of God’s kingdom.

[i] Erik Kolbell, What Jesus Meant: The Beatitudes and a Meaningful Life Westminster John Knox Press: Louisville, 2003) 59.
[ii] CS Lewis, Mere Christianity (Harper San Francisco: New York 1952) “The Greatest Sin, pgs 121-128.

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