There’s a moment of sublime silliness in the James Bond film “Die Another Day” when everyone – including intrepid British secret agent double-o-seven - suddenly realises they’ve been duped. The North Korean baddie we all thought had died at the beginning of the film has in fact been around all the time and no-one, not even his own father, recognised him! How did he manage that, you ask? Well, a few painful sessions in a gene therapy chamber, delete his DNA and give him somebody else’s, and hey presto, Bob’s your uncle! Or at least in this case, your sinister North Korean baddie is now your sneering fair-haired English public-schoolboy fop complete with floppy hair and plum-in-the-mouth accent.
A load of bunkum, I know, but it’s a neat way of illustrating the subject of this latest blog! Last time out (and sorry, it was a long time ago) I wrote about the discipline - the dogged determination - required to create a context for intimacy with God. But it begged the question, why? What is the purpose of intimacy with God? Where are we going with it?
This is where the “gene therapy” analogy comes in! You see the gospel is not just about salvation, but about transformation. God saves us just as we are – but He doesn’t want us to remain just as we are. He wants to change us. Paul writes to the Romans “be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit.….this will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.” (12:2)
And to the Corinthians he writes “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” (2 Cor 3:18)
Having saved us, it is in the chamber of intimacy – the place where with “unveiled face we behold His glory” - that we are transformed into His image. The cloud-filled chamber of His presence, the secret place of intimacy with God, is the spiritual gene therapy chamber where our brokenness and fallenness is replaced with the beauty and wholeness of Jesus.
How is this transformation accomplished? Back to Romans 12:2 – we are inwardly transformed “through a total reformation of how we think”. And how is our thinking reformed? By daily entering that secret place and meditating on the Word of God. Jesus is the Word and to meditate on the Word is to meditate on Jesus. To saturate yourself in the Word is to saturate yourself in Jesus. To wrap yourself in the Word is to wrap yourself in Jesus. When you meditate on the Word you are beholding His glory!
Meditating on the Word is more than just reading it for information or instruction - it is a wonderful means of grace by which we may hear the voice of God. People often think meditation is “emptying your mind” to “lose yourself”. But Biblical meditation is “filling your mind” (with the Word) to “find yourself” (in God).
The two Hebrew words most commonly translated “meditate” in the Old Testament are siyach and hagah and both carry the sense of conversation, dialogue - “chit-chat”. Biblical meditation is to have a conversation with God about His Word. Take a verse, ponder it, ask Him about it, what did He mean by using those words, those phrases, what is He saying to you personally through it? What does it reveal of His heart towards you?
And of course, conversation isn’t conversation if only one person does all the talking! So leave gaps – moments of stillness and quiet – and listen to His thoughts that come into your heart, His whisper to your soul. Ps 119:130 says “At the entrance of Your Word there is light” – or as another translation puts it, at the “doorway” of Your word, there is light. The Word of God is a doorway through which you enter and meet the God of the Word.
In fact, Psalm 119 is probably the best chapter in the Bible to meditate on if you’re just starting this journey. First of all, there is the puzzling format - the seemingly endless repetition – that provokes our curiosity, causes us to ask why, and to look at it again. And in doing so, we are drawn into “meditation” almost without realising it. And secondly, because Psalm 119 is so focused on the Word itself, it is equipping you with the raw materials necessary to transformation.
God snared me hook, line and sinker with Psalm 119. I was puzzled by its repetitive nature – 176 verses, arranged in 22 sections in line with the Hebrew alphabet, and all but four of those verses mentioning the Word of God in some way, shape or form. I took the bait and began looking at a verse a day, trying to fathom what was going on. Without realising it, I was of course meditating on God’s Word.
And in that process of meditating on the Word my mind was being renewed, my earthly nature with its corrupt desires was gradually being replaced by the Word of God, who is of course Jesus (Ephesians 4:21-24). It was like a changing room where I was being clothed with Christ!
As I meditated on the Word, I realised that Jesus was breathing life, encouragement, wisdom, guidance and healing into me. He was challenging and changing my way of seeing things, my way of thinking. He was blessing me, preparing me, breathing peace and assurance into my soul. Consider the following gems from Psalm 119…..
v.11….I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
v.25….Lord, I’m fading away. I’m discouraged and lying in the dust; revive me by your word, just like you promised you would.
v.74….May all your lovers see how you treat me and be glad, for your words are entwined within my heart.
v.81….I’m lovesick with yearnings for more of your salvation, for my heart is entwined with your word.
v.107….I’m bruised and broken, overwhelmed by it all; breathe life into me again by your living word.
v.114….You’re my place of quiet retreat, and your wrap-around presence becomes my shield as I wrap myself in your word!
I could go on, but you get the picture! Ultimately, the James Bond analogy breaks down in that Colonel Moon’s transformation was only skin deep – underneath it all the fair-haired fop Gustav Graves was still a naughty North Korean! For us it is the other way round. As we behold His face in that secret place we are being changed from glory to glory into His likeness. It is an inner renewal and transformation of the soul. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16). Layer upon layer, precept upon precept – our values, desires, emotions and passions are being reorientated in Christ. It is heaven’s gene therapy chamber!
A blog by Pastor Brendan munro
Welcome to my blog - thank you for stopping by! I’ve never done this before and I’m only doing it now after friends encouraged me to share more widely of the life-changing journey I’ve been on with God over the past couple of years.