The Unity I Observed over the Last Week and What It Means

Jan 14, 2021 by David Fowler

The Unity I Observed over the Last Week and What It Means
Over the last week, I have observed one remarkable sign of unity in our nation. Virtually all sides—Republicans and Democrats, Christians and non-Christians, “secular leaders” and “Christian” leaders/ministers—have engaged in pointing fingers, placing blame, attacking the character and reputation of others followed by defensive and ofttimes ego-centric rebuttals from those attacked. It greatly spurred me on in my endeavor over recent years to think through whether the things I have believed about the intersection of public engagement and Christianity are based on faulty assumptions.
I begin, though, by saying what my topic is not. It is not directed at anyone. It is not about what anyone should or should not do relative to specific governmental or political actions. I am speaking strictly of how I have analyzed my own thinking as I have observed what is going on and what that means for how I should engage.

Why this self-analysis?

What turned me to a bit of introspection was the exhortation of the Apostle Paul, “[D]o not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
In other words, from a Christian perspective, if, in principle, the conduct and attitude displayed by me and other Christians are the same as that of non-Christians, then my antennae should go up. Something may be wrong.

A Radically Non-Conformist Thought

What I observed last week made me think about Jesus’ radically non-conformist statement, “The meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). I had to ask: Did Jesus really mean this?
If Jesus is who He claimed to be—the Truth—then the answer must be yes. But in what way did He mean it?
To answer that question, I have to think about what being meek looks like. Somewhere the thought that the goal is to have the life of Jesus lived out in me needs to come into play. And when my personal character or reputation is attacked (now or in the future), I need to be mindful that when “he was oppressed, and he was afflicted, he opened not his mount” and “ as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth“ (Isaiah 53:7). I’ve a long way to go on this one.
I also have to consider whether He really meant the earth, which, more literally, means the soil. Jesus is speaking of this planet. 
In other words, if He had said “heaven” instead of earth, the two of which Jesus often distinguished, then that would have fit comfortably within the Christian doctrines I seemed to have caught growing up, that a non-soil-ish place somewhere, but not here, awaits me. This was what it meant to have an eternal “perspective.”
This, non-soil, non-planet place fits nicely with what I perceive to be generally accepted evangelical thinking, namely, that the meek are those who:
1.) Either do nothing in politics or government other than perhaps hold down a job in those spheres or separate politics from their Christianity in order to engage in it,

2.) will increasingly get crushed in this soil-ish planet by non-Christians, 

3.) but will eventually receive an other-worldly paradise that will please their senses (which sounds a lot like Islam!) in order to “make up” for what has been suffered in the process of getting crushed.

The Application

I have concluded that such thoughts about meekness and the inheritance of the meek are not consistent with the doctrines (now there is an evil word!) the church in the West believed for centuries (maybe in the East, too, but I don’t know). I have found that too much of what I read in the bible and in the church’s doctrinal history does not fit well with the three thoughts above.
Be that as it may, I have concluded what many, Christians and non-Christians alike, would conclude—meekness was not on display over the last week.  
But if Jesus meant what He said, the meek will not inherit anything by storming the nation’s Capitol. In other words, until someone shows me something in the Bible to the contrary, [i] the converse of what Jesus said is true. 
So why was there so little meekness last week, even among many Christians who were engaged in personal attacks and counter-attacks? What would meekness have looked like? It seems to me that, for Christians, this is a question that begs for a solid answer.
My thoughts on meekness and what it looks like in action, particularly in the political sphere, have begun to be “transformed,” in the words of the Apostle Paul, from what I long held to. In fact, I would say that both political friend and foe would say that my political ways over the years would not generally have been characterized by the word meekness. 

What It Means Going Forward

If thinking through what “strength through meekness” looks like, how it is employed, and for what purpose is of interest to you, then I invite you to journey with me in that quest by tuning in each week to the “Hope and Purpose” podcast series I’m doing on God, Law & Liberty
In my preparations for it, I have found myself being filled with hope and having greater clarity of purpose, even in politics. My engagement there has not waned, and I have concluded that, for me, it cannot. My hope and purpose for the series is that renewed hope and purpose will be true for you as well in whatever endeavors God may call you to. 
The meek shall inherit the earth. In fact, onlythe meek can inherit the earth. We have God’s word on it!

[i]The Temple that Jesus cleansed is not the equivalent of the U.S. Capitol, and His cleansing was directed at those in the then existing ecclesiastical structure who were polluting the Temple and using the “gospel” for personal gain.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. 

Subscribe to Email Updates


Donate to FACT

Make a Donation