Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Meditation

I don’t usually post anything here other than my own Bible readings, but there’s an interesting post on the Bible Gateway blog on meditation. (If you’re looking for additional blogs to subscribe to you could do worse than to add the Bible Gateway blog to your RSS reader. They have the occasional “what’s new on Bible Gateway” posts, which are expected, but most of their posts are on a wide variety of topics that Christians would be interested in, and are usually very interesting and well written.)

I find my own version of “meditating” on the Word is a bit more analytical. (Coming from someone who works as a consultant in the software development world, this probably isn’t too surprising. I’m an analyst at heart.) In fact the reason I continue to maintain this blog, though I am no biblical scholar, is that it helps me with my own personal devotions. I usually start out by reading the passage in question, and then I simply start writing a post with the synopsis and then my thoughts on it. (Yes, yes, I know, my “synopses” are way too long to really be called synopses; they sometimes verge on blow-by-blow descriptions, in which case one would be better off simply reading the passage itself rather than my “summary” of it.) Sometimes I will write out the entire synopsis first and then move on to write my thoughts, and sometimes I flip back and forth between the two, writing a summary of part of the passage, then putting my thoughts, then going on and doing the same for the next part of the passage.

Very often what I originally intend to write is not what ends up getting written. The process of working my way through the passage to write about it helps me to hone my thoughts on it, and the impression that I have upon “first reading” is not always the impression I have by the end. (I put “first reading” in quotes because I’ve always read the passage before—though it might have been a long time ago in some cases—but that means that I often come to a particular passage with some preconceived notions about what it’s about, and they don’t always hold up upon closer reading.)

Sometimes these changes are minor, sometimes major. One example I can think of is the last passage I wrote about before this post, and Jesus telling the man cleansed of a skin disease to show himself to the priests “for a proof to them.” I’d originally planned to write that of course Jesus was saying this because he was using this miracle as proof to the priests that He was the Son of God; by the time I’d finished writing the post, and thinking more about the fact that at that point Jesus was trying not to draw attention to himself for fear of harming his ministry, I’d come away from that opinion. Or, at the very least, I was no longer sure. Other cases (none of which occur to me now) have been more serious, and caused me to actually change my mind on certain things. Not “life or death things,” but if I have a misunderstanding of any part of the Bible I consider it to be serious.

Looking up related passages of Scripture is also very helpful when writing these posts, and, therefore, in helping my understanding of the Bible. I don’t always do this, but sometimes I do. It could be looking up Old Testament passages that are referred to in the New Testament, or it could be looking at how the different Gospels relate the same story, or it could be looking at different passages that discuss the same general topic. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 (ESV)), and that means that looking at His thoughts on things at different points in the Bible is always helpful in gaining an understanding of His overall thoughts on that topic.

And let’s not mince words, that’s what the Bible is: the thoughts (or the Word) of God. The better we understand it the better we understand Him. The better we understand Him the more we will worship Him—which is what we were created to do. So meditating on His Word is more than just a study in learning; it’s an act of communion with the One who made us and wants our fellowship.
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