Consequences inevitably flow from every worldview, and few worldviews have had an influence as negative as the nihilism found in Friedrich Nietzsche’s thought. His concept of the Übermensch, the superman who creates his own values and lives by his own rules in the exercise of his “will to power,” was a driving force behind Nazism’s rise in Germany and the attempted eradication of “unfit” individuals in Adolf Hitler’s concentration camps. Even today, postmodernism’s tendency to see everything as driven by a desire for power reflects Nietzsche’s shadow.
Nietzsche was especially critical of Christianity because he believed that it inhibits the emergence of the Übermensch and prevents the full evolution of humanity. He saw Christ’s emphasis on meekness as crippling to the human heart and mind. Yet, if we are not careful, we can adopt a similar understanding. In fact, many of us are likely to see meekness as weakness, as a quality that produces men and women who have no backbone and courage. This represents a false view of meekness, however, for the two individuals most associated with meekness in Scripture were anything but weak or cowardly. We are referring, of course, to Moses and Jesus, both of whom are called meek but whose strength of leadership and courage are plainly evident in the Bible (Num. 12:3; 16; Matt. 11:29; 21:12–17, KJV).
Actually, the concept of meekness has no meaning unless we remember that it takes strength to display meekness and humility. The cowardly, insecure person is not really meek if he defers to others or is consistently self-deprecating, for it is in his nature to avoid conflict and remain a background player. On the other hand, the more power and courage that one has, the greater the need for that person to temper these qualities with grace and humility. We see this par excellence in the Son of God, who, though being in the form of God, did not count equality with God as something to be grasped for His own advantage at the expense of others. Instead, He walked the earth with meekness, exercising His power with sensitivity (Phil 2:5–11). Thus, He was invested with all authority on heaven and earth, an authority by which He promises that His meek followers will likewise inherit the earth and reign with Him over creation (Matt. 5:5; 28:18; 2 Tim. 2:12).
Dr. Sproul notes that all of us, no matter our position, have some kind of authority over other creatures — even if it is just over a pet. No matter the degree of authority we possess, the arrogant, selfish exercise of such authority for our own benefit alone is the antithesis of meekness, and it is unbecoming to Christ’s followers. Let us reject all such uses of our power and authority and lead with meekness even when it is costly to us.