Meditation is not a neutral word in today’s culture. A Google search of the word yields websites promising practical tips, eastern religious origins, and local venues to begin practicing. Where I live, at least six different places provide opportunities for meditation. One claims to be Christian, another Buddhist, while another a new-age self-help hypnosis center. Clearly meditation is anything but nonpartisan.
So how does meditation relate to the Christian life? If the concept seems so tainted, why not abandon it to the culture? Though the idea of meditation has more definitions than a Texas oil man has Cadillacs, the properly Christian practice of meditation has an historical pedigree worth exploring. Over the next few posts, its my desire to highlight this oft-misunderstood practice as it relates to the Christian life. A Google search won’t help us here. For this we’ll need to dive deep into the ocean of Christian literature to discover how Christians through the centuries have promoted the necessity of meditation. You may be surprised at how many Christians wrote about, preached about, and practiced meditation in a properly Christian sense.
Reflecting on meditation and Johnathan Edwards, Kyle Strobel notes:
Meditation is necessary because Christianity demands more than just abstract knowledge; it entails affectionate knowledge. Edwards wove these ideas together around the idea of beauty, so that our spiritual life progressed through a clearer and clearer vision of divine things. The Spirit illumines the real world to us, so that the false world of the flesh, sin, and death fade away. Meditation is attending deeply to God’s truth, purposes and revelation, so that the lies of the world are seen as lies, and so the truth of God can pervade every aspect of our lives. (Formed for the Glory of God, 115)
There is a beautiful necessity in the practice of meditation for the Christian. I hope that over the next few posts, you’ll come to understand what it means for a Christian to meditate, why we should, and how generations of Christians before us understood the practice of meditation.