For the class that I am taking right now we have a short time of silent meditation at the beginning and at the end of the day. Actually this is a topic that I have been thinking about quite a bit recently, and I have had several conversations with various people on this topic. Today I want to try to give a simple introduction to Christian meditation.
- Christian meditation is Word centered. In this way it is very different from Buddhist and other Eastern forms of meditation that have as their goal the emptying of the mind and becoming passive. Christian meditation is an active engagement with God founded on His revelation of Himself in the Bible
- Christian meditation is different from Bible reading or Bible study. Study is analytical while meditation is more holistic. To take a simple analogy, to analyze a flower might require you to cut it apart, study its internal structure, and understand how it works. But to meditate on a flower you would contemplate its beauty, enjoy its fragrance and reflect on its part in God’s creation.
- Christian meditation has as its goal an encounter with God in His Word and hearing His voice speak to our lives. As we reflect on God’s truth we listen for Him to speak to us and we respond in prayer and obedience to what He has shown us.
- In order to meditate we need to learn to listen, and to distinguish God’s voice from our own thoughts and feelings or the voices of others. This takes practice. We are much better at talking than listening, and we usually fill our lives with a great deal of “noise.” Contemplation is practically a lost art.
I will end this post here for now, but I am sure that it could be much improved on. But I wanted to put down some thoughts while I was thinking about this subject. I welcome your feedback and comments.
A few points for you to ponder on:
1/ Not all forms of Eastern forms of meditation have as their goal “the emptying of the mind and becoming passive”. Kundalini yoga and tantra come immediately to mind. Not to mention the creative visualization of Shakti Gwain
2/ You have completely neglected to mention forms of meditation that are neither eastern nor Christian. For example Kaballah in Judaism, Qabalah in western esotericism, Sufi meditation in Islam, nature mysticism in NeoPaganism and various other forms.
To clearly articulate what distinguishes Christian meditation from non-Christian forms you need to go deeper. I recommend considering a critically contextual approach.
Matt, thanks for your helpful suggestions. In this brief post I was trying to introduce the concept of Christian meditation to many who have never thought of meditation in a Christian context. Obviously contrasting Christian and Eastern meditation is a gross simplification of a complex topic. To adequately compare Christian meditation with all forms of non-Christian meditation would require an entire book.
One point that I wanted to emphasize is that Christian meditation is focused on truth external to ourselves revealed in God’s Word. Many other forms of meditation focus mainly or exclusively on an inner experience. Even some “Christian” mysticism loses the focus on Scriptural truth, and in doing so ceases to be genuinely “Christian.” I think that this is a fundamental distinction.
what does being Christian Mean? Is it about following a particular doctrine of scriptural interpretation or is it about walking the way that Jesus made clear through his birth, teaching and resurrection? It seems that in purity it is about Christ. The marriage between Man and God. The death of the ego and the resurrection to the new life that Jesus opened the way for and asked his disciples to make the path straight too. Did Jesus not say to seek first “The Kingdom of Heaven”. That this Kingdom was within you and closer than hands and feet? What is the Kingdom of Heaven? is it not the place that he went to prepare where all could live in peace and happiness. Where all love as god loves. Where all love God and each other as god loves us. It seems that Scriptural truth is subjective. The objective truth is that there is a God that loves us. That God is within above and around us and by prayer, meditation, observation and contemplation. This can be known. Not just believed but truly known. Scriptural Truth is the key to open the door but to be truly Christian is to step through the door and walk the walk and share it with others in the most loving way possible. Once through the door then it is possible to see others who have walked through the door as well and you will be surprised at who is sitting at the table. There will not just be those who profess to be christian but those who walk the same path to union in Christ that have never set foot in a “Christian” church. In the power of the Holy Spirit let these words be taken as truth and see beyond the confines of religious prejudice to the truth that Jesus demonstrated to humanity. The way out is the way in.
Your comment goes far beyond the topic of this post, but I will respond briefly. Being a Christian is having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We all have sinned and deserve God’s judgment, but Jesus died in our place so that we can be forgiven and reconciled to God. When we put our turn to God and trust Christ for our salvation, our sins are forgiven and we obtain eternal life. Jesus is at the center of the Christian faith, and since we know him through the Bible, Scripture is the means by which we learn about Him. We know what Jesus is like as we study his words and actions as recorded in the Bible. The Holy Spirit works through the word of God to bring us to faith in Him. We can’t be united to Christ without knowing at least some of the basic facts about Him, as revealed in Scripture. Could you have a close personal relationship with a person you have never met, and about whom you know nothing?
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