Everyone's looking for something; meaning, peace, security, intimacy, hope, satisfaction, security, and much more. Everyone's looking for something. This is a good thing, a reflection of the reality that our Creator has placed longings in our hearts which, if followed, will lead us to the life for which we're created.
Some seek to find fulfillment of certain longings through meditation, because it provides a physiological and emotional sense of relief from the frenetic pace of our lives and the avalanche of obligations, appetites, and advertising that overwhelm us. Others, especially many Christ followers are suspicious of meditation to the point of disparaging the practice because of its associations with unfamiliar faith expressions, and the danger of its abuse. Food, sex, exercise, sleep, and every other good gift is also open to misuse, so that's not a very good reason to toss it aside. Maybe it's no surprise, but there's a third option beyond idolizing meditation as a magic necessity and demonizing it as destructive, and it begins with this:
You don't need meditation. It's not some secret ingredient leading to wholeness. What you do need is to see the world as it it really is, rather than as you perceive it be, or wish it were, or as the news cycle, advertising machinery, political pundits, voices in our heads, and a dozen other loud voices portray it to be. Jesus, who offers the fullest expression of reality, humanity, and our reference point for living, said it that if you know Christ and abide in Christ's revelation "shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free". What matters is knowing the truth through experience, not just via mental assent. When we know this way, the truth so saturates our being that it becomes the leans through which we see the world, and means by which we make choices, and the source by which we live.
But What is the truth that sets us free? It's that the world is saturated with Christ!! This truth is hidden in plain sight, but we can't see it easily, because in our daily lives we see wars, lies, lawsuits, sexual abuse, people in power oppressing. We see the rich getting richer and the poor, weak, minorities (racial, national, sexual) "otherized" and vilified. We see our own shortcomings, and hear voices of shame and judgement assuring us that we're less than we really are because we don't perform or believe as others expect. We encounter endless promises of success that will be ours if we buy this product, join this group, invest in this commodity, or believe this creed. Sometimes we hop on a train promising to lead us to fulfillment, only to arrive poorer and disillusioned at the end of the ride. It can be discouraging.
All this rubbish crowds out what Paul the Apostle calls "the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." Christ's life is the only seed that will ultimately bear fruit through us, but it often gets choked or swept away, according to the teaching of Jesus in his parable about the seed and the sower. "The cares of the world...the love of wealth and comfort...an aversion to suffering" are the thorns and rocks that choke the seed of Christ's life. We know that. But we're busy people, and when we've finished with our obligations, we've little energy or motivation intentionally nourish the seed of liberating truth that Christ is eternally present. Nonetheless, here's the reality: Christ is continually sharing gifts with us, rooting us in an infinite, unconditional, and irrevocable love, connecting us with other people, along with the beasts and creation, and filling us with divine life so that we have the capacity to bless and serve a broken and hurting world.
What's vital is keeping these seed truths in the soil of our daily lives and nourishing them carefully, and that's where meditation comes in. I'll offer a video on meditation toward this end on the youtube channel, but for now it's vital to see that our meditation isn't an emptying of our minds - it's a filling of our whole being with divine truths.
Here are the four truths we can meditate on every morning.
Christ above me - I'm receiving
Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. - James 1:17
Every cup of water, every sunrise, every moment of intimacy, every encounter with justice and mercy, every act of generosity intended to bless another, every night's sleep, every breath - all gifts! What if we believed this? Our lives would overcome that toxic tendency to fixate on either the past or the future. We'd live instead in the present moment with, as the Scriptures say, "eyes wide open to the mercies of God", which are right here, as gifts from above, every day. We'd become grateful rather than cynical; attentive, rather than phone fixated; peace filled and content, rather than anxious and striving.
Christ beneath me - I am rooted
(I pray that) you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. - Ephesians 3:17-19
If I believe that the creator of the universe loves me utterly unconditionally, and I can learn to rest in that love and become rooted in it, similar to the manner in which a healthy tree is rooted in soil, all my striving, fear, and wondering if "I'm enough" come to and end. Instead, I'm drawing, continually, on a matchless love that I didn't, in fact couldn't, earn. I'm just receiving, the way a child receives from the breast of its mother. The milk of divine life is mine as gift, and knowing that this one is irrevocably for me changes me. It frees me from looking around for props to my ego, as if being smart enough, fit enough, good looking enough, rich enough, will somehow make me worthy. Those who are rooted can, as the scriptures say, "cease striving"
Christ around me - I'm connected
In Christ all things are held together - Colossians 1:18
Christ is all and in all - Colossians 3:11
He upholds all things by the word of his power - Hebrews 1:3
"...if you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me" Matthew 25:40
"the whole earth is full of his glory". Isaiah 6:3
While some will want to debate this point out of a fear that I'm calling for a worship of creation, the reality is that everything is created to declare and reflect the glory of God, and everything has the capacity to praise God (let everything that has breath praise the Lord).
David and Job were both practical regarding this as they articulated the ways various creatures glory God by doing what they're made to do. This means they were paying attention to creation, looking for the hand of God in the order, beauty, design, and lives of all.
Paul the Apostle extended this vision of looking for the divine to his relationship with people. He said, "from now on we regard no person according to the flesh." He also said, regarding humanity's relationship with divinity, "we are his offspring". Imagine if human relationships had been governed by this simple principle all along. Genocide, land theft, colonialism, slavery, human trafficking, homicide, wars, and all the misery, death, and destruction that stem from them, couldn't have happened. The fundamental problem, for many, is an inability to believe even the possibility of being a "partaker of the divine nature" as Peter phrases it.
Whether you see creation as an image bearer, or as something whose very essence is animated by the spirit of God, if you're looking for the fingerprint of God in creation and human relationships, seeing yourself as sharing that same divine imprint, quite a bit will change in your relationships. The petty judging, gossip, dehumanizing treatment and comments, and rage all become unnatural! Your relationship with creation changes as well because you see, in your moments of divine revelation, that everything is connected, that you're breathing oxygen exhaled by trees, and eating food created by soil, and sunlight, and an interdependent ecosystem of seasons, and weather, and creatures. God's behind it all, as author, sustainer, and giver - and those who grasp it worship, and care, differently.
Christ within me - I am called.
the mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory - Colossians 1:27
Through the mystery of the gospel, the history of humanity moved from "God with us" in the garden of Eden, to "Christ in us" as the divine mystery of God and humans living in union as a marriage. This is why Jesus invites us to abide in him. We, who are the bride of Christ, are invited to continually open ourselves, allowing ourselves to be filled with the seed of divine life that is Christ, to the end that we might display the fruit of this union.
Practically speaking, meditating on the reality that Christ is alive in me doesn't make it true. It's already true. Meditation simply orients me to that reality so that I can live out from a place of quiet confidence, knowing that I'm held, loved, empowered. The fruit of this, of course, isn't withdrawal from the needs of our world, but engagement. How could it be otherwise? If Christ heals, serves, blesses, stands in solidarity with those on the margins, empowers, forgives, and crosses social divides - so shall we - each of us as unique expressions of the divine union between Christ's life and ours.
In a world where loneliness, fear, road rage, mass shootings, economic anxiety, addiction, and cynicism/disillusionment with institutions (politics, universities, churches), our world needs your unique expression of Christ's life. That expression doesn't blossom accidentally, but requires our conscious participation and next steps. One of those steps is meditation, and you can get started on meditation through this video, and there'll be a video coming soon with these four truths as a focus. In my next post I'll talk about scaling meditation to your unique circumstances so that it can work for you!
For now, simply give thanks for the reality that the glory of Christ is alive and well in this world - raining down from above, rooting us in the soil of God's love, connecting us with one another and creation, and filling us with divine life. What an adventure awaits when we live out from that place!