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Daring, Humbled Ones {a hillside sermon}

Blessings on the meek. {Jesus}

We live in a university town, home to a historic and prestigious academic institution that has traded titles (Best Public University) with UC Berkley the last 11 or 12 years. There’s a lot of smart people here. A lot. I love it, truly do. Important ideas. Fascinating discussions. Intriguing people. But stick around long enough, and you will notice the temptation to sound smarter than you actually are, to drop names of esoteric philosophers you don’t really understand and use words you haven’t exactly figured out yet. Not that I’ve ever done this, mind you – but I know people who have.

I’m a pastor. And you might find this hard to believe (or not), but pastors feel the compulsion to climb the totem pole just like everyone else. We have our matrix for success, though these days it’s often unspoken because someone finally realized how crass it is to actually say you’re measuring the Kingdom of God by seats filled and dollars gathered. We see other churches grow and other pastors become the superstars while we dawdle along — and we awake in the middle of the night, ravaged by the fear that we are failures. Not that I’ve ever done this, mind you – but I know pastors who have.

I’m a writer. I don’t even need to go into it. The cliches are true; we are tortured souls. You put your words to paper, sending them out into the wide world with fingers crossed that they’ll be received, if not (dare we admit) cherished. And months later, the resounding silence has squashed all that. Now, you’re just begging the great publishing gods to not let it go out of print before its first birthday. And then you see the blogosphere blow up with some schmuck’s flash of brilliance. He said something revolutionary like “Be nice to people” – and he offered his sagacity with all the artfulness of a South of the Border billboard. Overnight, he’s got 4 buzillion twitter followers and blog commenters – and you know this because you’ve counted. Everything turns green. Not that I’ve ever done this…

We exhaust ourselves with all these wranglings because we do not believe that when we are humbled (and this is the meaning of meek) that the mercy of God will be enough for us. To be meek is to be gentle. A gentle man. A gentle woman. We are free to be gentle with others because we recognize God is gentle with us. We have nothing to prove. We are whoever and whatever God has given us to be. And we offer the same freedom to others.

When we release the demand to get what’s ours, when we drop our shoulders and lower our guard and simply live the truth of who we are – we can trust that the God of all kindness will hold us together. We don’t have to pry our life out of other’s scattered opinions and perceptions of us. We are free to be tamed by God, to surrender to God’s good care.

Peterson’s rendering of this beatitude invites us to take a risk – and to breathe easy: You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less.

10 thoughts on “Daring, Humbled Ones {a hillside sermon}

  1. you know winn… you have a way with words. a good way. a way i appreciate. because: i feel some of these things and think some of these same things… but can never seem to put them to words. you do a good job of that. thanks.

  2. you're welcome, Daniel. Thank you for saying so.

  3. A good reminder, Winn. Thanks.

  4. I'm loving this series…Is this the start of a new book?

  5. I'm not sure right now, never know what happens once you start slinging things around. I'm glad you're connecting with it.

  6. This relates exactly to what I am studying now with my women's Bible study. Thank you for your way with words, Winn. If you don't mind, I will be sharing this.

  7. This is the first I’ve heard of you. I can’t even remember how I came to be here just now, but I was drawn by your openess and honesty. ‘Lower our guard and simply live the truth of who we are.’ I needed to hear that today. Thank you.

    1. glad you found your way here, Danni

  8. I love your writing, your tender perspective on faith…I’ve never commented but have returned to your words many times over the last few months. Today, these words… “When we release the demand to get what’s ours, when we drop our shoulders and lower our guard and simply live the truth of who we are – we can trust that the God of all kindness will hold us together.” Had me weeping like a child. Have you had that strange experience? Where your inner spirit reacts to a needed truth before your mind even deciphers what exactly was read? Parched ground soaking up rain. I had to stop crying and read the sentence several times, to see what had affected me so. Now I see it. Just wanted to say thanks.
    You are helping far more people than you realize, see Gods heart towards them.

    1. Such generous, kind words. Thank you.

words have a way of making friends. drop a few here.