I just finished reading God's Battle Plan For the Mind, by David Saxton. Here on this last day of 2015, I finished one of my favourite reads of 2015.
Drawing from the rich resources of Puritan writing on mediation, Saxton presents an argument for the necessity of meditation in the Christian's life. Naturally, he does not mean what the stereotypical view of meditation is, i.e. emptying one's mind. Rather, one fills the mind with Biblical truth. Saxton presents a case for the necessity of meditation, both deliberate and occasional, and then reviews important occasions and topics for meditation. He evaluates both the benefits of meditation and the enemies to meditation.
Overall, the message was clear: a Christian needs to be a thinking individual. A Christian's sanctification requires concentrated thought on Biblical truth. I think this message is even more needed more than ever because we live in a world where nothing is ever "turned off." Because there is always continual noise, both visual and audible, we have to make a concerted effort to withdraw and ponder seriously Biblical truth. I have been very convicted as I read, as I think about how often I waste valuable time just noodling around the internet when I could be thinking upon better things.
At the conclusion of the book, Saxton shares some very good words:
The believer's ultlimate purpose is to glorify God through becoming more like Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:28-30; 2 Cor. 3:18). Of course, conformity to the image of Christ occurs gradually rather than instantaneously. This process of progressive sanctification is all of the Lord's grrace, yet it is a duty in which God's people are responsible to participate. Paul describes this process of ever-growing change in Ephesians 4:23-24: "And be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holinesss." This passage reminds us that a believer grows into the likeness of God by replacing sinful attitudes with a renewed perspective "in the spirit of [our] mind." The battle against sin starts in the mind -- the thoughts or what one dwells upon. This is why meditation is so important. It is God's ordained plan for biblical thinking, renewing the mind, overcoming sin, and thus growing in greater Christlikeness.
I also found convicting Saxton's discussion of how our love of entertainment can draw us away from Christ. I won't go into it here, but suffice it to say, meditation is much more work than being entertained, and perhaps that is why we don't engage in it as much as we ought.
This book is not a long read, and the bonus is that he uses footnotes instead of endnotes. There is a very nice bibliography at the end which will introduce the reader to some of the best Puritan writing on the subject. One of the books, by Nathaneal Ranew is quoted often, and I happen to have that on my shelf. It will be one of the "as yet unread" books I tackle this year.
Meditation should not be onerous, but it is work. Saxton makes that clear. However, we should regard it as a privilege. To spend time in fellowship with Christ through meditation should make us aware of our union with Christ. And that can only be a positive thing.