Friday, February 7, 2014

Unmasking Meekness

Meek. The word sounds weak. It rhymes with geek.  (Sounds like a rap song, albeit a meek one.) Meek conjures up images of the kid who gets bullied at school. We know how that story turns out. Browbeaten into suicide, becoming a schoolhouse shooter, or the CEO of a tech company. None of these sound like a path to spiritual blessedness.

Yet Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” What does meek really mean? It describes the one whose sense of self is not worn like armor. The meek have not crafted the heavy masks that most people wear.

As we physically grow as children, we also grow a persona. It is the personality mask we wear in our social interactions. Actually we have a collection of masks. We are different people depending on whom we are with. I am different with my wife, with my children, with my siblings, in the pulpit in front of a congregation, or with my ministerial colleagues talking theology.

I am a man of many roles. I am legion. There are endless variations on myself that I can display. It is hard to keep it all straight. It is all an elaborate socio-psychological charade. Those who learn to play the game well are successful in life – in career, friendships, marriage.

Some people never learn to play the game of social interaction. They feel like outsiders – as if someone forgot to issue them life’s instruction book. They feel awkward and vulnerable. Because their masks are thin, they feel like people can see who they are, and can use that against them. These are the meek.

The positive side of being meek is that they can be themselves. When you are maskless, you can see the world more clearly. The problem with masks is that they keep slipping down and blinding us. We forget to take them off occasionally and remind ourselves who we really are. We start to believe we are the roles we play.

Consequently most people forget their true face. They have forgotten who they are. They are lost in the game. They are immersed in a fantasy world of their own creation. When that happens, the world can become a self-made hell of lies and deceit.

The meek remember who they are. They remember what the world looks like without a mask. They remember they are created in the image of God, that they are mirrors reflecting the glory of God.

When God looks at the meek, God sees himself reflected. When others look at them, they see God reflected also.  The creation looks into the meek soul and sees its Creator reflected. All creation bows before them, for they are creation’s rightful heirs. The meek inherit the earth.

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Art by Anne C. Brink. She has a series of works on the beatitudes here.

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