I’ve been reading Springsteen’s new best-selling memoir for the last week. I’m trying to read it slow, but I kinda feel like I grew up with this guy. He was on my radio, on the covers of magazines, and front and center on MTV. He has spent a great deal of time in my tape deck and in my CD player. Still does. I have every album and about a dozen bootlegs. He’s taken up residence in my life as a fixture.
What’s interesting is to read about what he wanted to get out of his driven lifestyle. There is this one story he tells on his album, Live 1975-85, in the middle of “Growin’ Up.” He talks about how his parents wanted him to be anything but a rock and roll singer. His dad wanted him to be a lawyer and his mom wanted him to be an author. He says they wanted him to be one of these things so that he could “get a little something for himself.” Which made sense because he grew up fairly poor in Freehold, New Jersey. But he said, “the problem was that I wanted everything.”
What is strange about the promise of the meek inheriting the earth is that it is the exact opposite of the way our world works. It’s the aggressive and loud and assertive that get the goods in this swift, spinning, ever-changing world.
Blessed are the go-getters. The entrepreneurial. Blessed are the ones who have a little bit of an ego—just enough to want to be great. These are the ones who inherit the brass ring.
Jesus’ original listeners would have heard the promise that way. Remember, these were people who were living in a land occupied by the unclean Romans. Their great hope was for the Messiah to come and give them back the earth beneath their feet. I am sure many a Jewish man secretly chastised his own meekness, and the meekness he saw in others, toward the Roman interlopers.
I love the way Eugene Peterson sums up this verse: “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought” (Matthew 5:5 MSG).
The problem is being content with who you are in a world of discontent. This earth is constantly beaming messages at us that are meant to take away any meekness we have and strip us of any contentment we have found. They promise that if you are anything but meek, you can get a lot for yourself. It’s a deadly trap to fall into. The things our world promise sound great because of our discontent, but to chase after them only breeds more discontent.
However, as those who find our identity in our Jesus, we can be content. We can rest in who we are in Christ. We see the power of meekness in the cross itself.
We are children of God. The redeemed. Those with a hope in the face of all tribulation. And the promise? We shall inherit the new heavens and the new earth.
Written By Matthew B. Redmond