The tag line of CrossPolitic is “Fight, Laugh, and Feast,” and this is admittedly sometimes a real balancing act. We live in an effeminate and sentimental goo-fest of a culture where hard words and sharp words are condemned as automatically hateful and harmful. Many of our Christian leaders go mealy-mouthed, cowering and flinching in fear of the world, bowing and scraping at whatever virtue altars have been erected by the word (racial sensitivity, #metoo, etc.), and in reaction, many Christians go sinfully ballistic, bombastic, and belligerent.
Blessed Are the Meek
But Jesus says blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. This means first of all that the meek want to inherit the earth. Jesus is not teaching here that it is foolish to want to win. Jesus is teaching here the right way to want to win. Meekness is not apathy. Meekness is not a doormat. Biblical meekness is bold, courageous, and undeterred by opposition, conflict, and enemies. But meekness is also the continual Sabbath rest of Jesus in the soul of a man. Thomas Watson says, “Meekness is a grace whereby we are enabled by the Spirit of God to moderate our passion” (Beatitudes, 106). This meekness bears with injuries, forgives easily and quickly, repays good for evil, all while remaining zealous for goodness, justice, and truth. Watson again: “There is an holy anger. That anger without sin which is against sin. Meekness and zeal may stand together. In matters of religion, a Christian must be clothed with the spirit of Elias, and be full of the fury of the Lord (Jer. 6:11). Christ was meek (Mt. 11:29), yet zealous (Jn. 2:14-15). The zeal of God’s house ate him up” (Beatitudes, 107).
To these examples, we may add the example of Moses, whom Numbers calls the “meekest man on the earth” (Num. 12:3) – by which we may no doubt surmise that this particular sentence was written by someone other than Moses – this was no humble brag on the part of the great patriarch. Despite the later intemperance of Moses striking the rock in sinful anger (Num. 20), we may still see in the life of Moses an example of deep humility, self-discipline, and meekness full of zeal. Moses faced down Pharaoh. Moses led Israel through the Red Sea. Moses withstood the complaints and rebellions of Israel in the wilderness. Therefore we conclude that meekness is steeled, happy resolve, gladness in steady progress, and a plodding, joyful courage, not given to panic, not emotionally unstable, not a roller-coaster of feelings.
Two Modern Examples
But I want to turn the corner here and make some practical observations and applications to our world today. I believe we have work to do in this area particularly where the battles are the fiercest. I’ll mention two here briefly: abortion and the LGBT crusade.
First, on the abortion front, I’ll use the example of the movie Unplanned, in theaters now, I understand. I haven’t seen the film, so I do want to reserve the right to modify my assessment after I have seen it, but based on all the reactions and reviews I’ve seen in my feed, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think Christians should be generally very thankful for Unplanned. And as far as the world is concerned, we should cheer its success and seek to support it. As far as the world is concerned Abby Johnson is with us. She wants to dismantle the Industrial Abortion Complex, and so do we. This does not mean that I think Christians need to think that Abby Johnson, the central character depicted in the film, is everything we should look for or want in a front person for ending abortion in America. Neither do I think that Protestants should be unthinking or uncritical of various ways in which Roman Catholics (and other sects for that matter) will allow their errant theology to inform their message and methods. But we really must understand battle strategy better than I’m seeing here and there. And this means we need to understand the usefulness of cobelligerents.
Cobelligerents are not allies. Cobelligerents do not share our values, but we do share the same enemies. The most famous case in recent history was the Soviets in World War 2. The Soviets were not allies, but they were cobelligerents in their fight against Germany. It would have made no sense at all for Great Britain and America to start bombing the Soviets while they were attacking the Nazis. Yes, the Soviets were actually enemies on a number of fronts (they were communists after all), and that battle would need to be fought eventually, but it wasn’t the immediate threat. The immediate threat was militant Nazism and fascism. So too here in our day: abortion is the common enemy, the immediate threat. And we should cheer every bomb dropped on that enemy, every godly rock we can sling at that bloodthirsty giant.
We may think some of the bombs, some of the rocks are not as effective as others. We may even have serious concerns about certain flanks in our front. Fair enough. All well and good. We may make suggestions about strategy here and there or even debate methods at certain points, but the last thing we should be doing if we want to end abortion now in the US is to attack other people who are fighting that same enemy. And meekness means being undeterred if they occasionally slander us, misrepresent us, or even attack us or do us harm. We should do everything we can to avoid a two front war. The one, single front of abortion is a big enough challenge.
But listen to me carefully: meekness does not mean that we cannot defend ourselves from attacks. Meekness is not pacifism. But meekness means being resolute about our immediate goal, and bearing with the weaknesses and messiness of the path to victory. Of course, if a so-called cobelligerent can be shown to actually be supporting the enemy, covering for the enemy, defending the enemy, then they are not really a cobelligerent and they have joined the enemy. But in this case, a movie that clearly depicts abortion as the murder of an unborn human being is a glorious, cluster bomb being dropped on our common enemy. There may be subtle (or not so subtle) Roman Catholic theology woven into the film, there may be subtle (or not so subtle) shots taken at Protestants or those who preach outside abortion clinics, but I say, let them. We are not perfectionists. We are Christians. If we are attacked for being belligerent for open air preaching, and we respond with prickliness, whining, or even belligerence, how have we not proven their point? But if we smile and cheer on the main point of their film, and keep on preaching Christ crucified the power to save and the power to end abortion, while answering objections or slanders along the way, we actually demonstrate any possible slander to be a lie. Keeping the gospel central ought to make us happy, scrappy warriors. And please be assured that I am not thinking of any particular response to Unplanned out there as I write this. This is just me giving some general observations and encouragements to my friends in arms.
The LGBT Front
Lastly, and more briefly, consider the current full-court press of the LGBT Fascists to muzzle every form of Christian dissent and to mandate lockstep approval, blessing, and support for every form of perversion they dream up. From the Obergefell Supreme Court decision to the Colorado cake baker to the current San Antonio chic-fil-a circus to the Equality Act currently being considered in Congress, we are being chased hard by our enemies. We need a whole lot more Christians actually speaking up in the public square about the harm that LGBT legislation is causing. We need Christians confident in the truth educating their city councils and representatives on the damage that SOJI legislation and things like the Equality Act are doing and will do in the years to come to Christian churches, schools, and Christian owned businesses. And Christians really do need to see the connections between the LGBT front and the Abortion front. It’s the same enemy. It’s the same culture of death. But if we aren’t careful, we will be outflanked by LGBT laws. I will try to write more about this soon. But suffice it to say: Christians need to speak up on the LGBT front, but this is my plea: when we do, we need to speak with meekness. This meekness ought to measure words carefully, and discharge those words with the requisite force, sharpness, boldness, and gladness required by God and His word, appropriate to the situation and context. And do not misunderstand me: A meek soldier does not hold back when firing on the enemy, but he fires on the enemy in obedience, with resolution, and a zealous joy. He does not panic. He does not overflow with fury or malice. He carries out his mission as a servant of the Lord.
Think of the sniper in Saving Private Ryan, reciting Psalms and pulling his trigger over and over again. Meekness is biblical boldness, calm courage, and uses hard-hitting, sharp, and pointed words when and where required by God, but always seasoned with grace and gladness and Sabbath joy.
Penultimate sentence of penultimate paragraph should be “does not overflow with fury or malice,” correct?