Friday, August 21, 2009

Entering & Receiving the Kingdom of God # 2.

Cultivating Awareness & The Kingdom of God - Scott answers Derek's question, "How would I know that this type of meditation is having a positive impact on my life - that it is "working"?

Derek...."How do I know it's working" is an insightful question. Meditation, like most spiritual disciplines, can be compared to physical training. People that engage in jogging, weight lifting, etc. normally have a goal in mind such as losing weight, improved health, increased strength. The clearer they are on their goal, the easier it is for them to measure their progress or the lack thereof and make adjustments. Most people don't expect immediate results...unless they have a bow flex! They know the only sure way to experience real change in their body is to be in it for the long haul. The point to grasp here is that, generally speaking, no one doubts that real, measurable results will occur if they stick to a proven form of physical training.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for most of us when it comes to spiritual training. Does it really work? How do I do it? We simply don't have much experience in these things. They are not embedded in our popular culture, which is where many today look for answers to the question of how to live life. Others that look to the Christian faith for answers to life have been told, for a long time, that "working" at their faith will exclude them from grace....nothing could be further from the truth. As a well known author has said "grace is opposed to earning but not to effort".

The apostle Paul, writing to his young friend Timothy had this adivce, "Train (gumnaze) yourself unto godliness; for while bodily training (gumnasia) is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Tim 4:7-8, RSV). (If it isn't obvious, "gumaze" is where we get our term "Gymnasium").

I think the challenge here is first, to become convinced at some level that spiritual training is valuable for the lives that we actually live. Second, find the spiritual "Jack Lalannes" that have gone before us and learn with them how to enter into this kind of training. Finally make a specific goal for your meditation...could be greater faith, patience, direction, etc. Over time and with imput from others, I think you will know if it's working. It seems to me that at the end of the day, those that get the most out of the invitation to enter / receive the Kingdom of God in fact will be gym rats. Scott Rieger

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