Summary: An introduction to a series on Spiritual Disciplines and a practical message on Christian meditation
Tilling the Soil of The Soul September 18, 2005
Intro to the Disciplines
I remember when I was a kid, we were living in New Dundee & my dad’s office was not in the church building, it was in the basement of our house. In order to go to work in the morning, he only had to walk downstairs. One time when he was coming upstairs he got winded, just climbing the stairs. He decided there and then that he had to get into shape. So he started walking to get the mail – the post office was about 1 km away, so every day at lunch he would walk 2 km round trip to get the mail. After a while he started to run a bit in his walk and then he began running every day. I think at one point he was up to running 10 km daily. These days he runs about 4 KM 3-4 times a week. When I was 15 I came the embarrassing revelation that my father was in better shape than I was! So I started to run, joined the cross-country team at school and got in shape. Now, I’ve continued to run and bike and swim to stay in shape.
Have you ever had a similar epiphany in your faith walk? Have you ever come up against a spiritual obstacle and got winded? Have you wondered why you still struggle with the same sin hurdles? Have you ever looked at someone who is more mature in the faith and wondered how they got there? One of the answers to “spiritual fitness” is spiritual exercise.
Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7-8
Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next.
Over this next year, we are going to learn how to train ourselves for spiritual fitness. Since we are going to concentrate on the classic spiritual disciplines, we could call the series “Sweat’n to the Oldies,” but I think we might have some copyright problems with Richard Simons
Another metaphor for the Christian walk is gardening, or farming. As we try to progress in the Christian life and become closer to, and more like Jesus, we can find the way difficult. We try to grow the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) and get rid of the weeds (sins) in our life by the power of our will.
When we ask people about getting rid of the sin in our lives or increasing the fruit of the Spirit, we are often told to pray more and try harder. Many of us have experienced failure using this method.
Richard Foster, in the introduction of his book “Celebration of Discipline” says that mere power of the will, will not bring us closer to Jesus in relationship or in character. He says that in order to grow the fruit of the Spirit and get rid of the weeds, we need to “till the soil of the soul.” He says that we till the soul of the soul through the classic Christian spiritual disciplines like meditation, fasting, solitude, service and prayer.
Foster highlights 12 different disciplines in his book, which makes it perfect for concentrating on one discipline each month for the next year, starting in September. Once a month we’ll be highlighting one of the disciplines in the sermon.
I’d also like to invite as many of you as possible to join me in practicing the highlighted discipline for that month. We can join together for a potluck lunch after the service to reflect on our experience of the previous month’s discipline and prepare for the upcoming month. You may want to read Foster’s book through the year. I will try to provide some additional practical material each month. You will most likely find that some of the disciplines impact you more than others & you will want to hold on to those disciplines for the future as we continue to till the soil of our souls together.
The first of the Spiritual disciplines that we are going to look at is Christian Meditation
Is Meditation Christian?
Sadly one of the first questions that pop into a modern Christian’s mind when meditation is mentioned in church is; “Is meditation Christian?”
The answer is yes – it is Christian and it is Biblical.
Meditation in the Bible
Abraham’s son Isaac is recorded as going out to the field to meditate in Genesis 24:63. It is at that time that he meets his wife, Rebecca, so there might be some hidden benefits to meditation!