TONY JONES (ABC Lateline): Will the meek inherit the earth?
PROFESSOR IAN HARPER (Chair of the Fair Pay Commission): That’s not part of my brief in this commission. (Both laugh)
The professor, who is an evangelical Anglican, has been put in charge of reviewing the minimum wage by the federal government. It is more than likely he will see that the meek-low paid will have a long wait before they inherit very much of the earth. From my pew it seems likely that the real value of the minimum wage is set to go down.
This firmly pushes Jesus’ promise to the meek into the box marked “Unrealized eschatology” –the place for God’s promises waiting fulfillment in the very last days.
But we all have a problem with meekness, not just the professor. Fashionable it isn’t.
To be sure the Lord Jesus tells us to take the lowly place at the meal table. So that perhaps we will be asked to “come up higher”. Its not just good etiquette, its good practical advice.
But working out how to be meek all the time is much harder. Sydney is a counter-meek sort of place. Loud, lewd and brash. Wealth displayed on wheels and in bricks and mortar. The right house. The right school. The right car. The right restaurant. Sydney is Emerald City according to David Williamson. Green with envy.
But in a town that is like one big party, perhaps Jesus’ banquet advice can be generalized. Hold back. Stay lowly.
Insane advice of course. You will never get ahead that way. And that is the point of course. We are playing by a different set of rules.
Meekness in the pew? Perhaps this should mean taking the minister seriously enough to think things through even when the sermon seems fatuous, or harsh or otherwise not suited to our delicate sensibilities. They are not doing it to annoy any of us you know. Well, hardly ever.
Because clergy don’t read this column I don’t have to say what their version of meekness is; realizing that we find a lot of what they say hard to take they shouldn’t assume we agree with them all the time. For any clergy who have strayed in here, you can stop thinking that the people who stare up on Sundays are nodding their heads because they agree with you. There is another possible explanation of that.
Meekness keeps some people out of God’s kingdom. The humility that comes with the Jesus package is too much– why should a hard working professional bloke of either gender consider others more worthy than themselves? Good question.
But meekness is meant to be attractive. At least that’s what I think letting “your light shine” so that men seeing your good works glorify the father, means. (And once again as no clergy are here I can’t be pinged for how I read that verse).
And I am strangely attracted to something so insane. Against all the evidence we live as though heaven is here. That’s holy madness.