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Keith Wishum: Getting the good life by giving up

Two boys on the playground. Fists balled, teeth clenched, they circle each other. Both are afraid. They fear the fight, but they are more afraid of what others would say if they backed down.
“Chicken!” one snarls. A fist flies. And it’s on. Each boy flails away, desperate to prove himself and have his way.
Two nations square off at a round table, their representatives staring coldly. Both are afraid of the coming fight, but they fear the loss of face more than the loss of life. A bomb flies, and the battle is on, both armies ambitious to prove their nation superior and to have their way.
You and your wife. You and your boss, or your children, or your neighbor. How often do you line up against each other to do battle to win your way?
One man against dozens of soldiers. Alone. Unarmed. Stripped of his clothes and of his dignity. He claimed to be king, but they refused to bow. Armed and angry, they are determined to prove themselves stronger.
A fist flies, and a curious thing happens. He does not respond. They spit on him; he says nothing. They place a crown of thorns on his head, and drive thorns deep into his scalp as they beat him with a stick. He simply accepts it. They nail him to a cross and he does not resist.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,” he taught (Matthew. 5:5). He lived by it, and he died by it.
But meekness is not weakness. It is power under control. It is having enough confidence that you feel no need to prove yourself. Meekness is having the strength to surrender. It is God on a cross.
We try to control others. We think we would be so happy if we could just be in charge at work. If our spouses would only do what we want. If everyone would just get out of the way and let me have my way, life would be grand!
Or would it? Jesus never said, “Blessed are the powerful,” but rather, “Blessed are the meek.” Might he be right?
Which boy on the playground do you suppose is happier? The one bruised and bloodied trying to prove himself? Or one who has the self-confidence to walk away without fighting?
Two boys. Two nations. Two ways. Which will we choose?

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.