Post Title: The Bible's This-World View of Spirituality
“Abba, we come to you by way of the cross in the name of your son, Jesus, the Messiah. We ask for a work of your Spirit to behold the man Jesus, to see him in the fullness of who he was so that we would come to understand how we can enter into the fullness of who you would have us to be in him.”
“Help us, O Lord, to set before our eyes and our hearts you, your word, and your will, that we may be conformed to the one who is your exact image, your very likeness—that we may be like Messiah. By your Spirit, let these words edify your people of faith, let them lift up the name of Jesus, and Father, let it all be to the praise of your glory. Amen.”
I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. - Psalm 16:8
“I have set the LORD continually before me” is Shiviti Yahweh l’negdi tamid in Hebrew, the mother tongue of Yeshua. It is a wonderful text to memorize: Shiviti (I set), Yahweh (or Adonai, the LORD), l’negdi (before me), tamid (continually).
I want to address the question, should Christians meditate? And if yes, what insights on the subject can we glean from our Jewish roots?
I remember meeting a dear woman when we were holding our Friday night fellowship teaching seminars. Many times after those gatherings, I would talk and pray with her. She was struggling because, in her spiritual quest, she had actively pursued various courses of meditation—to the point of traveling to India and being initiated by a guru.
She would say to me, “Dwight, I hear what you’re teaching and it bears witness to my spirit. But my mind is battling me. I’m experiencing so much confusion that I can’t seem to lay hold of it. Would you please pray for me?” It took time, but the Lord healed her and she became a productive member of our congregation. Hallelujah!
For many of us, when we think of meditation, we picture that kind of Eastern spirituality, which has entered, in one form or another, into what today we call the New Age movement.
It is a legitimate question to ask, should Christians meditate? Yet the only way we can answer it correctly is to inquire, “What does the Bible say about it?” The first thing I want you to know is that your spiritual formation is important to God. He doesn’t save us to bide our time until we pass from this world to the next. He wants us to be increasingly conformed and transformed into the image of his son.
God wants us to be more like the Messiah in our words, in our walk, in our worldview. The question is, how do we do that? How do we develop and demonstrate the faith and the faithfulness of the man, Jesus of Nazareth?
How do we live as he lived? How do we love as he loved?
I would suggest to you that one of the keys to being shaped into the image of God’s son is to recognize the centrality that Scripture gives to cultivating the mind of Christ. Your thoughts, your ideas, and the images within your mind are so very important. A foundational principle to this process of spiritual formation is to cultivate and nurture the mind of the Messiah.
“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Messiah. - 1 Corinthians 2:16
Let the same mind be in you that was in Messiah Jesus. - Philippians 2:5
My task is to further explain this truth and show you how meditation, in the biblical worldview, connects to it.
First, let’s talk about spirituality and clarify some of the differences between the Judeo-Christian worldview and that of many other religions. Typically, even within some of our Christian heritage, when we think of spirituality, we think of immateriality or that which is opposed to the material world. It is other-worldly, not really having anything to do with this world. On both points, biblical spirituality differs because the scriptures teach it is the Spirit that brings life into the material world.
By way of the Spirit bringing life, the material world is sanctified. Not rejected, not cast off, but transformed. I hope you’re getting this because it is crucial to thinking hebraically, biblically.
Your bodies, which have been the residence of selfishness (of the flesh), are to become temples where God dwells by his Spirit. Spirituality, biblically speaking, refers to that which brings life, which bears life, in the midst of materiality.
Indeed for eternity, we shall have a form of materiality. I am referring, of course, to the resurrection. Jesus did not just die and go to heaven. On the third day, he arose with a new form of physicality. The form of physicality which he embodied is the same form, if we are in him, which you and I will embody when we too are raised to the newness of life. And when God consummates his purposes for this creation, it will involve his eternal presence here in the world, made new by a work of his Spirit and the blood of the Lamb.
In Jewish tradition, spirituality is not something that focuses on some altered state of consciousness. Rather, it is a way of walking.
Biblical spirituality is not desiring or trying to get into a state of bliss, it is an issue of walking in faithfulness. It is always characterized by a life journey. It is a path to follow, a daily way of walking that transforms. It is a Spirit-led process that renews and restores.
This is a road less traveled, a journey that is not often taken by many, even those who have tasted of salvation.
The goal of Hebrew spirituality is not ecstatic experiences but an intimate relationship. Spirit manifestations and ecstatic experiences, which we have all had by the grace of God at various points in our life, are perfectly wonderful but they do not transform you. You are transformed in a walk, in the journey, by being so bound up with Jesus that you become like him as his presence in you increases.
Yes, we will go in-depth into what the Bible says about meditation. But it begins with spirituality and the worldview of Jesus, one that is built upon, shaped by, and centered in the word of God.
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.