05 May 2014

Meekness

If meekness isn't weakness, what is it? The word has an association with domesticated animals, specifically beasts of burden. At first blush, this etymology doesn't thrill me; I don't particularly aspire to be ox-like. But when I think about it, an ox at the plow is not weak but extraordinarily strong. The key, though, is that his power is harnessed and directed. Perhaps meekness is strength that is submitted to an appropriate authority. [Source.]
With the exception, perhaps, of Paris Hilton's purse-dogs, domestic animals are not generally viewed as weak.  Dogs, particularly large dogs, are able to incite fear in most children, and even some adults.  Indeed, few things are scarier than an angry, uncontrolled dog.

Horses can also be quite dangerous because not only are they large and strong, they can generally be quite skittish.  Anyone who is kicked by a horse, assuming he survives, is in for a world of hurt.

A good example of meekness was seen this weekend at Churchill Downs, in the Oaks and Kentucky Derby races. The horses in those races are massive, strong thoroughbreds.  They are extremely powerful, but their power is harnessed to win races.  Meekness is brute strength under a master's control.  It is domestication.

A sheep dog and a race horse are both meek.  They are not weak, nor are they pushovers.  They have strength to be used for specific purposes.

In like manner, the human forms of meekness are usually on display in the military and police forces.  In both organizations, men are trained to hurt and kill effectively.  However (in theory at least), these men are trained to be discriminate in their use of power.  Police men are not supposed to abuse citizens, but rather to arrest criminals.  Soldiers are not supposed to fire their guns at the slightest noise, but rather to carefully aim at their enemies.  Both police officers and soldiers have great power, but they are not supposed to wield it thoughtlessly.*

Since meekness is meant to conjure up the image of a powerful animal being brought into subjection to a master, it is worth asking whether Christians are truly meek in the sense in which the word is biblically.
There are two conditions that must be met in order for one to be considered meek.  First, is one living in subjection to a master?  Second, is one powerful?

While most Christians will claim to live in subjection to Christ (and will be judged by Christ, not me), most Christians are not powerful.  Indeed, most Christians appear to be weak and fearful.  Thus, most Christians are not really meek, for though they live in subjection, they are not powerful.

And yet, meekness is well spoken of in the Bible.  Moses was called the meekest man on the earth, and Christ said that meek were destined to inherit the earth.  Since meekness is bringing one's power in subjection to God, why is so much emphasis placed on subjection and so little on power?  As far as meekness is concerned, you cannot have one without the other.

Indeed, it was Christ who told his followers to "be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."  The choice to use "serpents" was deliberate, and meant to evoke certain satanic connotations.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong about understanding how the world works and using the Prince of the Power of the Air's power structures against him.  Indeed, that's exactly what Paul did to get what he wanted from the Roman officials in Philippi in Acts 16.

Thus, the church is suffering from a lack of meekness because it easier to subjugate through castration than through training.  This neutering robs the church of its power and thus its weakness.  It also robs the church of its future because the castrated cannot reproduce.

Ultimately, if the church is to grow and become stronger, it must stop castrating its members and reducing them to powerless, cowardly people.  Instead, it must teach them to be strong and channel their strength appropriately.

Christ was easily the most powerful man who ever lived.  No other man could raise the dead, cure diseases, and change the weather like he did.  And no other man brought his power under the Father's control like Christ did.  Christ's meekness was seen both in his calming of the storm and in his death on the cross.  And his death would not have the meaning it does if Christ never had the power he did.

So, since Christians are to be meek like Christ, they must have his power and use it in subjection to the Father's will.  And, they must not ever view weakness as a virtue.

* It's interesting, is it not, that women tend to be almost-universally attracted to men in uniform.  Wearing a uniform conveys power and purpose, and women tend to be attracted to both.  It's interesting to see that clerical uniforms have tended to lose their social cachet (relatively speaking) over the last couple of decades.  Clearly, being Christian does not speak to having power, simply subjection.