Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Is There Spiritual Power in Meditation?

I am still trying to figure out what it means to be "spiritual." I had a thought today while I was reflecting on Paul's letter to the Colossians.

In Colossians 3:16, Paul writes, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly--with wisdom teaching and admonishing each other; with pslams, hymns, and spiritual odes singing in your hearts with grace to God." Without doing an in depth study, I think the second part of that verse elaborates on the first part. Paul calls the Colossians to let the word of Christ dwell in them richly, and then explains to them what that might look like. Now, I think the phrase "word of Christ" probably means "word about Christ," and refers to the Gospel message. Paul didn't have a New Testament, and he probably would have used the Greek graphe if he meant to Old Testament. So he is not concerned about letting the Bible dwell in you richly, but the Gospel message. So the question is, What does it look like for the Gospel to take root in your life and dwell in you richly? He then elaborates.

Its interesting that each of the things that Paul mentions has to do with celebrating the community tradition and how God has acted among His people. First, Paul wanted the Colossians to seek wisdom for teaching and admonishing. He probably wanted the Colossians to devote themselves to the teachings of Christ with which they were familiar--either through written or oral tradition--and to the traditon that Paul himself handed down to them. He probably also wanted them to wrestle with any messages given to the community through the early Christian prophetic movement and the spiritual gift of "wisdom," whatever that is. Second, Paul wanted the Colossians to sing their spiritual songs to God. I may be wrong, but I think these songs probably came from the spiritual heritage of the community, possibly back to the psalms themselves. I don't know.

Regardless, there is value in reflecting on the traditions of the spiritual community that cannot be denied. This made me think of the spiritual discipline of mediation and how that relates to my search for what it means to be "spiritual." Since I am reflecting on Colossians, I thought I would find a passage in that book to memorize and review. I chose Colossians 3:12–17, "Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the affection of compassion, benevolence, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving each other if someone has a grievance against another. As the Lord forgave you, so also you should forgive. Upon all of these things add love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, into which you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly--with all wisdom teaching and admonishing each other, with psalms, hymns, and odes singing in your hearts with grace to God. And whatever you do, by word or by deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God through Him."

I am going to meditate on this passage for a while. Paul emphasized faithfulness to the Gospel traditon so much that I wonder if he recognized some kind of spiritual power in this tradition. We'll see.

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