What group did you run with in high school? 1980’s movies depicted high school segmented into cliques. The jocks exerted their athletic authority. Nerds attempted to walk the hallways without getting shoved into lockers losing all their books. Punks wore their cut off jean jackets while trying to stick it to the man. It seems these three groups got the most attention in movies with the Brat Pack or even in Back to the Future.
Each plot line of these 1980’s high school movies followed the same premise. The jocks, nerds, and punks started separated. They might bicker with each other. One group would pick on another group. At a particular scene, they would have a genuine moment where they identified with each other. Soon the labels would not matter. The acts dropped.
We may have graduated from high school, but we may not have graduated from groups. Many of us still try to maintain our membership in labels.
The Gospel challenges us to drop the act. Jesus’ first beatitude in the Sermon on the Mount begins in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness misunderstood seems to imply timidity. It’s not the first character trait we follow. Christ’s calling us to meekness welcomes us to see ourselves as God sees us: accepted and loved by God.
Meekness releases us from embodying a group or persona. We can exhaust ourselves living up to an image. Just like a 1980’s high school movie, we experience the realization of authenticity. A.W. Tozer makes this observation in the Pursuit of God:
To men and women everywhere Jesus says, “Come unto me, and I will give you rest.” The rest He offers is the rest of meekness, the blessed relief which comes when we accept ourselves for that we are and cease to pretend. It will take some courage at first, but the needed grace will come as we learn that we are sharing this new and easy yoke with the strong Son God Himself (pg. 110)
When we follow Christ, we no longer have to pretend or maintain an image. Christ’s grace offers accepting ourselves and others. Not based on pretense, but founded in the rest of experiencing Christ in our lives.
Whether you label yourself a jock, nerd, punk, or another label, Christ offers rest in finding our identity in Him.
Photo credit by Ryan McGuire.