The Christian Response To Meditation? Do it Differently

The number of Americans who practiced meditation in 2017(14.1%) is 10% higher than the number from just five years ago(4.1%). Children are getting in on the act as well. 5.4% of children practiced meditation compared to just .6% in 2012.*

Yet, the response to this growth from Christians has been non-existent. Here in this so-called secular age, thousands and maybe millions of people are participating in a spiritual practice and embracing spirituality and Christians aren’t noticing and aren’t responding and aren’t presenting the Christian alternative to secular meditation.

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A year and a half ago, I committed to a short blog series on meditation. I asked, “Should Christians meditate?” and I talked about my own experience with Christian meditation. Since then, I have had the chance to speak to a group of leaders on my campus about meditation. In that preparation, I discovered this explanation from Tim Keller on the practice, “Meditation is taking the truth down into our hearts until it catches fire there and begins to melt and shape our reactions to God, ourselves, and the world.”

Like the cow’s process of rumination, or chewing over again, we should take the steps of embracing God’s truths, largely through scripture, and letting them be considered, turned over in our mind, sink into our hearts, and find not just the truth in them but God’s presence in them.

The Christian version of meditation is full, robust, life-giving, a “room full of marvels” and not dependent on our skill or expertise. As long as we can take the time and invite God to be with us and speak with us, He will show up and fill us with his presence. God is doing the heavy lifting, we just have to be willing to surrender to him in that moment.

As Christians, we should be experts on meditation in its proper form and should be practitioners of it. We have a chance to show the world the richness of this kind of encounter with God.

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The Real Reason We Should Be Overflowing With Thankfulness

I invite you to stop what you are doing. Take a step back from your activity. Take a deep breath and think about all that you have to be thankful for. I don’t even have to mention the usual list of health, family, and a roof over your head. What I want you to be thankful for is simply the great presence, power, and promises found in life with Christ.

Do you remember that not even death can separate you from the love of God? That the life we live as Christians inside the Kingdom of God is a life full of love, now and forever. That love is not contingent on our ability to maintain some level of goodness.

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Do you remember that you are valuable and precious? As Eugene Peterson said, “we are splendid, never-to-be-duplicated stories of grace.” Christ dwells in you and delights in you and sacrificed everything to be made alive in you.

Do you remember that you are a new creation? That your life from this point on is capable of transformation and deep change. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

See all that we have to be thankful for? Thank God for our health and our provisions but more than that, thank God for his great love and his work in our lives. Without which, we would be aimless, tossed about by our own desires, and ever on the edge of despair and loneliness.

Being All In Is The Only Way

When was the last time you were fullhearted in anything?

Halfheartedness seems to be the default mode for the modern American person. We have our laptop out while watching TV, our phones out while watching our kids games, music in while reading a book, and screens on while we eat. Do we ever just fully devote ourselves to a task or an event or a project?

The Christian life is not a life that can be done halfheartedly. Jesus’ command to take up a cross, no our cross, and follow him is not a call for halfheartedness. It is a call for fully devoted surrender and sacrifice that starts to require our entire self – from our thoughts, to our use of our body, to the choices that we make.

Yet, we try to get by with a halfhearted faith.

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We let other people pray for us, we open God’s word just on occasion, we substitute blogs and podcasts for real Christian community, and we fill up our time with endless distractions that have zero eternal significance. Dallas Willard says, “When we are halfhearted in our faith, we are halfhearted in our thinking. And the halfheartedness defeats the whole project.”

Do we ever practice loving one another or being generous or sharing the impact God has made on our life? If you are like me, generosity and love and sacrifice doesn’t come easily and it won’t come at all if I remain halfhearted in my commitment to Christ. My life of following Christ requires all of me.

This world needs halfhearted followers of Christ like I need a hole in my head. You can be distracted while watching TV or brushing your teeth but when it is time to live this Christian life, commit your everything to it. This is why I write this blog, so that readers can Grow Up to a fullhearted faith and leave their halfhearted ways behind them.

Looking For Something Holy

Shortly before I graduated from high school, a friend and I traveled 40 miles to see Rich Mullins in concert. It was unlike any Christian experience I had witnessed in my short life. I still remember some of the things he said and the spirit present in that small town church.

As I began to recently research his life, I found out that Mullins’ concerts were legendary as spiritual, holy experiences. Mullins’ manager, Gay Quinsenberry, said of his concerts late in his career, “God spoke through Rich in ways I had never seen before or since.”

Mullins didn’t see his role as performer there to entertain and garner applause. For him, playing music and creating was a calling. He believed that his shows should have a message: “You know what? The world is full of musicians. What the world is starving for is Christ. If I wanna just go to a concert, I’ll go see the Chieftains, or a symphony, or a jazz concert, or a rock concert. But if I go to a Christian concert, I want to be reminded that He is a loving God, and that He has forgiven me, and there is hope.”

I hope there are places that you go where you are reminded that God is a “loving God” and that there is hope. Mullins, in his abbreviated life, ruthlessly pursued God and found Him in unlikely venues and scenarios. I want to follow his example of heeding God’s call on my life, wherever it may lead.

 

How To Recharge Your Spiritual Life

I woke up this morning and listened to a two-minute devotional, then I prayed for a few minutes, then I read the same Psalm for 10-minutes and then I sat down to write about Christian Spiritual Formation. None of this is strenuous, none of this required large spiritual muscles. I simply found a few things that I knew were important for me to do and started to do them. The hardest part was simply carving out time in my day for 20 minutes of Growing Up activity.

If you have reached a dry patch in your spiritual life I would suggest that you do two things. One, find the 10 minutes that you are going to devote Growing Up. I do mornings because no one else is up and I am not mentally drained from the day. You may choose a different time and that is fine but stick to that time for at least a week.

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Secondly, start experimenting. Use that first week as a laboratory for finding a set of practices that bring you closer to God. Do not try to fit some ideal found in a book or what your Pastor has outlined for you, the point is to make it work and be sustainable. If you stick to it long enough, God will show you what activities and practices need to be added and which ones need to be dropped. Be flexible. There are many aspects to your spiritual self (your non-physical self) and growth in all of these areas will not happen over night. But, if you remain consistent and are open to the working of God, you will see change.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Read one Psalm everyday for a week

Pray the Lord’s Prayer

Memorize the 23rd Psalm

Sing your favorite worship song or hymn

Write a spiritual note of encouragement to a friend

Take a walk without your headphones or looking at your phone

Pray for God’s will to manifest itself in your life

Thank God for 3 things