22 February 2016

Meditation, and the fear of evil spirits.

“Oh no! They might try to take advantage when I’m sitting there with my mind open!”

Years ago in a prayer group, our prayer leader asked us to sit a moment and meditate on the lesson we’d just heard.

“And I know,” she said; “some of you are worried about this whole ‘meditation’ thing. You’re worried it’ll open you up to evil spirits or something. Well, you’re Christians. It won’t.”

She didn’t go into any further detail; she wanted to get to the exercise, and didn’t want to spend the rest of prayer time explaining why it wouldn’t.

Well I’ve got time, so I’ll explain.

There are a lot of Christians who are into spiritual warfare. (And incorrectly believe prayer is how we do it; I’ve already discussed them.) Too many of ’em are into it because they’re really fearful about anything devils might take advantage of. They’re looking for devils behind every corner. Even in the corners of our prayer closets.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and from time to time church folk would share one tale or another about a schoolteacher trying to teach her kids to meditate. ’Cause they did. I know from experience, ’cause some of my own teachers would try having us kids close our eyes, breathe in and out, and concentrate just on the breathing sounds. It does calm kids down, y’know. But according to these Christian urban legends, apparently some evil spirit took advantage, and climbed into one of the children. (This was the 1970s, when even the “good Christians” had seen The Exorcist and based their worst-case scenarios on it.) Or all the children; whatever sounded the most horrific. Whatever got Christians to clutch their pearls in fright and despair: “This is what happens when you take prayer out of the schools!”

Yes, there are such things as evil or unclean spirits, which Christians tend to call “demons” or “devils.” Yeah, they try to tempt both pagans and Christians alike, and lead us away from following Jesus. Sure, they could take advantage of grade-school meditation time, and whisper things into the kids’ souls when the adults aren’t looking.

But when are they not doing that?

Let’s get real. You don’t have to be meditating, eastern-style, for the devils to take a shot at you. You could be driving to work, watching TV, walking the dog, reading the internet, stomping a mushroom to death in a video game, falling asleep… and any time our minds aren’t fixed on God, it presents devils with an opportunity.

Christian meditation is actually the least opportune time for a devil. When we’re so focused on God nothing else matters, devils are gonna stand out like a urine sample at a wine tasting. We’ll be so far into the light, 1Jn 1.7 their suggestions aren’t gonna tempt us whatsoever. They’ll strike us as ridiculous.

That’s why during meditation, devils prefer to distract us, rather than flat-out tempt us. Much easier to break our concentration with the sound of the kids wrecking the living room furniture, than with the thought, “Hey, when you’re at work today, steal a ream of paper; you’re running low.”

Of course devils could take advantage of eastern meditation. But when we’re practicing Christian meditation, we’ve given ourselves over to the Holy Spirit. Unholy spirits can’t handle the holiness.

The fear of conviction.

More often what we see when Christians balk at meditation, is the fear the Holy Spirit might actually talk to us.

Like I said when I wrote on prophecy, there are a lot of people who really don’t wanna hear from God. Hypocrites, doctrinaires, bibliolaters… you can go to that article for the list. In general they prefer God be distant, not here. And if we meditate, and silence all the distractions which we were using to keep God distant… he might show up and say something.

And such people aren’t really aware how kind God is.

Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. It’s one of God’s character traits. It’s actually his specialty.

The first thing the Holy Spirit says to us isn’t gonna be, “Stop doing that [sin you’re doing].” Instead he’s gonna love us so much, we’re gonna want to stop doing what we’re doing. The reason we incorrectly assume God’s gonna be harsh, is because other Christians are harsh, and we assume God’s no different. A lot of preachers don’t have a solid grasp on kindness, and forget to demonstrate it. Or talk about it when we’re discussing God’s will.

So all this fear-of-God’s-voice stuff is totally unnecessary. But a lot of Christians still have it, ’cause they have God all wrong. Christian meditation isn’t anything to fear.

Well, unless you’re an evil spirit.