Christianity and the Problem of Human ViolenceChristianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 92: “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth”
from Guide to Kingdom Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 92: “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth”

By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Jesus must have surprised those who listened to his Sermon on the Mount when he said, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Everyday experience does not lend credence to this prediction. Indeed, it seems that the advice “if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39) is foolish and invites only more mistreatment.*

After the Fall from the Garden Eden, the logic of violence and domination has prevailed. Being meek has seemed to be a recipe for abuse, which is most readily apparent when we regard the horrors that meek animals experience at the hands of humans. Turning the other cheek has seemed a poor strategy for self-preservation. However, the Bible offers an eschatological (end of time) vision of the Peaceable Kingdom, in which all Creation will live in harmony. Our faith teaches us that the children of God will herald a new creation when everyone (including the animals) will be free from bondage (Romans 8:18-25). Though God will likely play a role in this transformation, humans will be involved. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that the children of God will be peacemakers.

In hope and anticipation of this world of peace and harmony, our decision to “turn the other cheek” is an act of obedience and faith. There is hope for the future, however, because the Bible teaches that the world will one day enjoy peace and the lion will eat straw like the ox (Isaiah 11:7).

Is this faith in eschatological (end of times) justice and peace a reasonable view, or is the instruction to turn the other cheek, as some have claimed, a sinister scheme invented by rulers to help subjugate their people? Fortunately, Jesus did not demand that we adhere to an unreasonable faith. He gave some insight into how turning the other cheek and responding to violence with nonviolence might prevail. One reason the meek shall inherit the earth, Jesus taught, is that Satan invariably destroys himself. We will turn to this next week.

* See Richard B. Hays, “Violence in Defense of Justice,” in The Moral Vision of the New Testament (HarperCollins, 1996).

Go on to: Part 93: Can Satan Cast Out Satan?
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