Jesus was meek during his time of humiliation prior to, and even in order to, threatening and exercising punitive dominance in his state of exaltation. But we should not treat this as if Jesus were a lying SJW who snivels for “freedom of speech” when “oppressed” but later denies any similar freedom for the Right. Rather this is only to assert that the moral goodness involved in meekness, deference, and self-sacrifice was more befitting, more to be acted upon, in his state of humiliation. With no deceptive tactics involved, Jesus’s expressions of meekness were more fitting courses of action for him at that time, compared to violent courses of action more fitting for his later dealings as ascended Lord.
When a decision is before us, frequently it can be good for us to pursue either of two mutually exclusive courses of action, each of which brings about some goodness that the other lacks. For example, in Matthew 10:23, Jesus instructs his apostles to flee in the face of persecution. But there are other times when it can be good to actively resist persecution, or sometimes to let it befall us, e.g. for the platform it provides to proclaim the gospel. (Christ took this third course for his Passion.) In any of these three courses of action – resisting, fleeing, or permitting suffering – the benefits vary, and the appropriate course(s) of action also varies, circumstantially.
The same is true for Christ’s and the apostles’ injunctions to bless our persecutors (Matt. 5:44; Rom. 12:14) and to be submissive in enduring grief and hardship (1 Pet. 2:18-19), not returning reviling for reviling (1 Pet. 2:23). These commands are not meant to absolutely rule out the permissibility of resistance, even armed resistance, any more than Christ’s command to flee in Matthew 10:23 is intended to rule out resistance or permitted capture, or any more than a command to love our enemies rules out violence against them. The point is that, as a church, and especially in the apostles’ time, our circumstances frequently call for such moral principles to be expressed, i.e. for us to pursue the peculiar benefits that meekness and deference bring about.
Just as Christ’s own expressions of meekness befit his state of humiliation, the same can be said for our own “state of humiliation” as his Body on earth. In some sense we are recapitulating Christ’s sufferings (1 Pet. 4:13) in order that we may ascend to heaven and rule with him (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 2:26-27). “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Christians’ due meekness and submissiveness, accordingly, corresponds to our own state of humiliation exactly as it did for Jesus – and the inverse is true concerning our own exaltation alongside (and subordinate to) him. Insofar as Christians are not politically and socially ascendant – insofar as we are in a state of humiliation ourselves – we are to emphasize our submissiveness to authority, our respect for the extant social order, our unwillingness to chafe under sufferings and pursue retaliation. These are the marks of true strength amidst suffering, knowing as we do that suffering and death cannot thwart God’s purposes. But this does not entail that we should never seek power, for power is power to do good. Nor does it entail that once we attain this ascendancy, we are never to exercise our power against the enemies of Christ. Rather, just as we understand Christ’s attained exaltation to be exercised for good, with due evils befalling his enemies, so also can we understand our own vocations. Meekness still has its place for a king, including the King of kings, but it has its place alongside the righteous exercise of dominion, violence, and coercion.
This is the role of meekness for the uncucked Christian. Christians can in good conscience accept the biblical injunctions pertaining to nonviolence in the face of evildoers without rejecting violence outright. And Christians need not feel guilty for seeking power, in whatever form that might take – and winning.