Recordings, notes and application questions
Each week, we produce notes, discussion points and application questions for the Sunday talks — helping you go deeper into everything we’re looking at together and resourcing our Small Groups during the week. Use the embedded player to listen to the talk, or click here to visit Soundcloud and download it on a PC. You can also subscribe to Oasis podcasts on Spotify, iTunes or Podbean for listening on the go, and you can find the accompanying Powerpoint presentation for this week’s talk here.
- Matthew 5:1–12
- Psalm 37
- Hebrews 11
- Romans 8
- Philippians 2:3–11
We’re in a series looking at some very famous teachings of Jesus found in Matthew’s gospel, teachings that have become known as the Beatitudes. But these statements are not good advice or instructions of good attitudes you should try and work on, they are announcements of wonderful news — blessings spoken over people in particular conditions. They are like saying “good for you”. Most of the descriptions are pretty counter-intuitive… Good news is announced to unlikely hearers.
The word “meek” can bring to mind some unhelpful images — of being a pushover, spineless, or wishy-washy. Helpfully though, Jesus uses the same root word in Greek to describe himself in Matthew 11:29, and so defines it by his life. There Jesus calls all who are weary and heavy laden to come to Him and find rest… because he is gentle (meek) and lowly in heart (humble).
This is Jesus, who spoke up fearlessly to oppressive powers, who silenced intimidating intellectuals with unparalleled wisdom, who calmed a fierce storm with His word, who took authority over enslaving evil spirits to cast them out and who overturned tables in the temple courts — an intensely provocative protest… this same Jesus is called meek. Gentle and humble.
Meekness before God: Jesus references Psalm 37, a song addressing the tension of seeing the proud and wicked prosper, often at the expense of the humble and faithful. Rather than seeking out power, David says, wait on God, trust in God, hope in God… depend upon the faithfulness of God… He is true to His promises, and the agency is His. We can give up trying to anxiously promote a particular reputation for ourselves or trying to control what others think of us, and instead receive the gracious identity that God gives — resting in the approval that is ours in Christ.
Meekness before others: This meekness before God enables meekness before others because we come to see others as those created by a loving and generous God, who freely and lovingly gives all we truly need to flourish. No longer is everyone competition. No longer do we need to fret about how we measure up against the person next to us. No longer do we need to prove ourselves to those around us.
Lenin is speculated to have said, “Trust is good but control is better….”. Meekness is not esteemed by the world — it doesn’t seem to get you far. But God says the meek shall inherit the earth. What does that mean? As is often the case in the Beatitudes, there is a now and not yet tension going on.
Now: There is a blessedness that comes from struggling for God’s justice for the sake of the earth. A justice which will one day be fully established. And this blessedness is experienced in the action of God working through people for the sake of the earth. There are several examples in history where wordly power and oppression was met by meekness, leaving a lasting inheritance of good for the earth: Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie Ten Boom to name just a few. These people changed the world through their stand for justice expressed in meekness in the face of aggressive oppression. We may not ever have the kind of impact they had. But we too, in our small ways, can make a lasting impression on the earth through the way we live.
- Treating others with gentleness not condemnation when their life is spiralling out of control.
- Serving your office in small acts of selfless kindness — cups of tea, noticing when people do things well and telling them. Being attentive when people are struggling and caring for them.
- Engagement with environmental needs…. Recycling waste and sustainable living
- Calling out bullying or discrimination in the office, in your school.
Not Yet: In the deepest sense this announcement to the meek is a promise of what is to come… belonging to the future but certain to become a reality. Your small acts of meekness towards others may not gain you instant promotion and recognition (and can often lead to persecution as in the case of all those listed above). In Jesus, God’s future has broken into the now, rooted in history and recorded in the Bible…. He is our window into the future. In meekness, Jesus confronted the great powers of religious and political oppression… Accused and condemned by them, He was marched to a cross that was supposed to say ‘mess with us, this is what you get.’ And yet on that cross, meek Jesus in unparalleled power was destroying in Himself the corrupting powers of sin and death and evil, which are the very forces behind every oppressive force.
Jesus reigns. He is risen from the dead. And He will come again to establish His gracious and just and good rule. To Him belongs the earth. As the Psalmist says, “the Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” And those who belong to Him are co-heirs with Him. Wonderful news!
- What spoke to you most from Sunday?
- What comes to mind when you think of the word “meek”? Is it a word your would use to describe yourself?
- How does Jesus redefine “meekness” throughout his life?
- How does meekness, change how we see ourselves? How does it change how we see and relate to others?
- Read through Psalm 37, either together or with smaller groups taking a section each. What particularly stands out to you from it? What comfort does this Psalm bring to those feeling the tension of seeing the proud/wicked prosper at the expense of the humble/faithful?
- What contemporary parallels can you draw with the situation facing David? How can we respond to those with true “meekness” in order to bring life to those situations?
- What struck you from the historical examples of people standing for justice expressed in meekness? Can you think of any other examples?
- In what ways can you stand for justice expressed in meekness in your daily life? What changes might you need to make to express this wonderful news more fully?
- What does it mean that we will “inherit the earth” as co-heirs with Christ? How does that change and shape our perspective now?