Meditation that’s Uniquely Christian
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16
The subject of Colossians 3:16 is “the word of Christ.”
While that seems self-evident, it’s important to note a few implications of this fact. First, the subject is not me or you. The subject is always Christ.
This is why Paul invites us to surrender.
We often come to the Word longing to hear from God specifically in response to a situation or issue we are facing.
While such an approach is common, it’s also idolatrous.
This approach is idolatrous because it places us at the center – or on the throne – of our life. It then seeks to use God’s Word in utilitarian fashion to drive us toward an end that may or may not be God himself. Anytime God becomes a tool to be wielded at our disposal, rather than the very pinnacle of our delight and desire, then we are behaving as an idol worshiper.
Secondly, meditation from the Christian tradition is a discipline that is centered on the Word of God. While I do believe we should engage in extended periods of absolute silence, in order to clear the clutter of our distracted and distorted world, the space created by the silence should then be filled by the presence of Christ’s Word. His Word is then empowered by the life of His Spirit within us.
When His Word Settles within Us, He Settles the World around Us
Paul then uses the word/phrase to dwell to convey a sense of settled-ness or a place of residence. The Word of Christ, he says, is seeking a place to land deep within the realm of our being! The Word of Christ longs to be received and settled in our hearts. As the Word of Christ is received and settled in our hearts, then we become people who convey and express a sense of peace and settled-ness to the world around us.
It’s a settled-ness that is possible only as Christ’s Word settles deep within.
The place where one dwells is the place where one is welcome, received, and at rest. In other words, we only dwell in the places where we are more than a guest. We do not dwell where we do not belong.
For example, recently, while traveling away from home, I stayed in lodging provided for me. Though I stayed there for several days, I was not dwelling there. It was a short-term stay. As such the lodging conveyed all the transitory realities of travel and none of the stable realities of being at home.
Paul, when writing to the Colossians, tells us that God’s Word seeks residency in our heart. His Word is to be welcomed, received, and at rest within us.
As this happens, the word becomes more than a guest within us: it becomes the Master of us!
The term richly conveys the idea of abundance and excess. There is no scarcity in this term. It’s a word reserved for the most excessive realities and experiences one may be fortunate enough to enjoy. In the context, the implication of the term is that God’s Word is to be experienced in its fullest possible measure. As His word dwells, it does so richly!
Lavishly Blessed, We Lavishly Bless Others
The term “dwell” is multifaceted in its beauty. One facet expresses the hope of God’s Word finding wide berth within the realm of our heart and soul! It’s to be abundantly received and excessively stored! Another facet expresses the power of God’s Word to enrich our walk with Him and our relationship with others. The riches of His word are to be tasted, yes. More than that, however, the riches of His Word in us are to be lavished upon those around us!
It’s the experience of delighting in God’s Word. Delighting to such a great degree that it takes up residence – abundantly so – in our heart and then generously pours forth to those around us.
We are in desperate need of disciples in whom the Word of Christ richly dwells!
The Way We “READ” Must Change If His Word Is Ever Going to Change Us!
This type of rich indwelling cannot be achieved by merely reading the word. It’s also difficult to experience rich indwelling by merely sitting and listening to others teach – in lecture like fashion – the Word.
No Word of great power and light should ever be approached in such haphazard and short-sighted ways. Indeed, what Paul speaks of requires meditation and contemplation. This type of experience with God’s Word calls for one’s pace to slow down so that one’s sight might focus in!
As we continue on this journey, I will begin to lay out a template for a Contemplative Bible Study.
Before we go there, however, I hope to support my conviction that simply reading the text, or the modern way of reading the text, will never provide the experience of the text dwelling richly in our heart.
Disrupting to Renew!