Bonhoeffer on Meekness


Their crime? Being born Jewish, or sympathizing with those who were.

Detrich Bonhoeffer knew of rights; he lost them all under the Nazis. Then they took his life.

No rights they might claim protect this community of strangers in the world. Nor do they claim any such rights, for they are the meek, who renounce all rights of their own for the sake of Jesus Christ. When they are berated, they are quiet. When violence is done to them, they endure it. When they are cast out, they yield. They do not sue for their rights; they do not make a scene when injustice is done to them. They do not want rights of their own.… But Jesus says, they will inherit the earth. The earth belongs to those who are without rights and power. Those who now possess the earth with violence and injustice will lose it, and those who renounce it here, who were meek unto the cross, will rule over the new earth.

The “community of strangers” of which he spoke is, of course, the church of Christ-followers. Strangers, because we are not of this world. I love his definition of ” the meek.” My own predigested summary is, “The meek are those who choose powerlessness in this world, relying instead on God’s power.”

I think if, with eyes wide open, you study humanity enough, you will discover that those who harp on their rights the most, understand them the least. Jesus never spoke of rights, human or otherwise. He was all about responsibility, or answering for our sins, but his love for us caused him to bear that responsibility upon his own body. It was the ultimate example of meekness because he is the power that holds the universe together. He never sought revenge for the Jews’ injustice. The Law of Sowing and Reaping takes care of that, the same law under which we live, and by which we destroy ourselves by our own liberties.

Meekness is a strictly divine trait, as it purely radiates God’s glorious love (Matthew 5:5).


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