In Search of the Kingdom of God: Being Overwhelmed (but in a good way)
Matthew 5:5; Micah 6:6-8
- Prelude – “Amazing Grace,” by John Newton, arr. by Mary McDonald; Pauline Olsen, organ; Donna Grubbs, piano
- Welcome – Pastor Brad Beeman
- Hymn 2272 – “Holy Ground,” by Geron Davis; Patty Shoop, hymn leader; Pauline Olsen, organ; Terry Reitz, keyboard; Donna Grubbs, piano
- Prayer Time – Rev. Dr. Kathleen Charters
- Special Music – “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” by Thomas A. Dorsey; Patty Shoop, vocal; Donna Grubbs, piano
- Scripture: Matthew 5:5; Micah 6:6-8; Judy Larimore
- Sermon – In Search of the Kingdom of God: Being Overwhelmed (but in a good way), Pastor Brad Beeman
- Hymn 512: “Stand By Me,” by Charles Albert Tindley; Patty Shoop, hymn leader; Pauline Olsen, organ; Terry Reitz, keyboard; Donna Grubbs, piano
- Postlude: “What the World Needs Now, Is Love,” by Hal David and Burt Bacharach; Pauline Olsen, organ
It’s Valentine’s Day, at least it will be on Sunday, and with it comes the whole idea of sharing love. For some, this is a wonderful day to celebrate relationships of love. For others, it may be a tough day of remembering a love now gone or lost. So, here at Trinity, given that we have both, maybe we take this day to celebrate each other, the love we share, the journey we travel together, and the relationships which are still distant but moving toward getting back together. Yup, they will come back.
It also reminds me of the day I asked Dorothy to be my bride. No, I didn’t ask her on Valentine’s Day. It was at our church as we were preparing the sanctuary for Easter. Ironically, it was also Tax Day. It was April 15th. Makes it easy to remember.
I have to admit that I was terrified. But I felt it had to be done, and done well. So, I got down on a knee in the middle of the sanctuary and asked her. She didn’t answer right away. Yup, she made me suffer a bit. I became weak, sweaty, needy, but didn’t want to beg…okay I wanted to beg but didn’t feel as though it was the right thing to do. I got submissive, kind of soft, and felt weak, even meek. I tell you all of that because, for some of us, particularly as men, it sounds way too insecure, meek; not manly enough, even weak – or so I’ve been told. I still remember that day and it makes me think about this one, not just Valentine’s Day per se, but this Beatitude; “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Come on, Jesus…really? Meek?
The whole idea of being meek often rubs us the wrong way. For some reason, we attribute meekness with weakness. In the kingdom of God, the opposite is true. The word we know as “Meek,” is like so many other words in the English language when translated from its original language. It doesn’t translate well, and in this case from the original Greek. Here’s what I mean. First, in English, to be meek means to be overtly humble, often stand-offish, quiet, and in some cases, soft, and submissive. In ancient Greek, however, it means, “Strong and powerful, yet under control.” I don’t know about you, but that seems like a pretty significant difference.
Notice it doesn’t mean gentle. It doesn’t mean cowardly. It doesn’t mean soft or even weak. None of these describe the Greek word at all. Like other words we’ve studied, this word also has an image. This time it has to do with horses, specific horses, and the specific way a horse is trained. First, think of a wild stallion, untamed and leading a wild herd. Think of the muscles, the sinews, and the overt strength in that horse; the often-overwhelming sense of power, and the fact that it has fought its way into leadership.
Now think of that same stallion, this time with a saddle on its back, and being ridden. For some of us, that image completely changes our view of that horse. But it shouldn’t. It is the same horse, and if trained appropriately, is still strong, beautiful, and powerful, just now under a bit of control. The word “praus” is used to describe the result of the process of “breaking” a horse. But, not breaking as in breaking the spirit of the animal, but in taming it in a way that allows it to keep its power and its strength. And again, here is the perfect example of what I’m trying to describe here.
If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Horse Whisperer,” you’ll understand a bit more about all of this. Robert Redford plays the main character. He doesn’t “break” horses by saddling them and then riding them until they submit. The “breaking” of the horse isn’t really breaking at all. It is not the violent breaking that we see in other Western movies, forcing the horse to be submissive. A whisperer doesn’t use whips or spurs. At the beginning, he or she doesn’t even utilize a saddle. It is a more gentle approach, an approach that builds a bond between the two. It is a bond of trust, of love, of mutual appreciation, yet with the knowledge that one, and only can be in charge. The strength and power and beauty of the horse remains, but now all of that is under the control of the rider. That’s the whole idea of “praus” or the biblical understanding of what it means to be meek.
With that in mind, it is my hope that we can understand that Jesus uses this as he talks about our potential relationship with God. God doesn’t want us beaten down or broken. God doesn’t want to damage us, injure us, nor does God seek to harm or threaten us so that we’ll submit and then follow. God simply desires us to be His children; children with strengths, with character, with power, yet with discipline, with direction, and children who trust the love that allows us to allow God to take the lead.
And as children of God, we recognize our own spiritual poverty, the mercy required of us at every level, and now the attitude of being meek, at least in the Greek sense of the word. The combination allows us to become inheritors of what God has in heaven. And as those who inherit, it is up to us to bring that same attitude, that same understanding, those same actions, to earth. We have a responsibility to share it, to live it, to offer it to others so that they too can experience the love, joy, and peace that comes from all of that. Let me close with this.
Like children and their parents, as the relationship remains sound and solid, as love is shared and the passing of those we love occurs, so comes inheritances. We inherit much from our parents. It’s not always what is received when reading a will. More often than not it is the genetic make-up, the personalities we inherit, the understanding of how to live, how to disagree, even how to argue. There are genetic predispositions like addiction or even abuse. Like the shape of our nose or mouth, the color of our hair, our height cannot be controlled, no matter how hard we may try, there are elements over which we do have control. I think for those of us who choose to follow Jesus, that becomes a primary element that can and needs to define everything else in our lives. As inheritors of God’s creation, we are to choose to be followers of Christ, to be meek as we seek out the deepening of our faith.
We can choose to overcome some of the less helpful pieces of our personalities or practices, and become created in the image of Christ. But it means choosing it. It means allowing ourselves to be “broken” but not like that rodeo bucking bronco, but like the relationship we see from a “whisperer” and in this case God becomes the “disciple whisperer.” And we are those receiving the gentle whispers of a God who loves us, seeks us, and leads us. Hope it all makes sense. Let’s pray…