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Beyond the Force

"Beyond the Force" Continued...

Issue: "Stand in the gap," Nov. 5, 2005

WORLD: How should young Christians who want to practice meditation, as you recommend, do it biblically?

STAUB: As Yoda is dying, Luke is worried that his training is not complete and Yoda comforts him saying, "Already know that which you need." In this chaotic, loud, fast-paced age I think young people know what their souls need. To restore his soul, shepherd and Psalmist David spent hours alone, beside still waters and in green pastures, meditating on the Scriptures, remembering, praying, communing with God. Today, young people often think they must turn to Eastern traditions to experience the contemplative life. Trappist monk Thomas Merton discovered this is not so. Having explored the contemplative wisdom of non-Christian mystics, shortly before his death he wrote a letter from Buddhist Thailand and reported that in going to Asia he learned that everything he was seeking had been present in his own Christian tradition all along. In the book I offer some specifics, but I also report what the great mystic A.W. Tozer said to my dad who had asked him the secret to knowing God: "Young man, read the Bible and pray every day and you'll grow like a weed!"

WORLD: You write, "Aspiring Jedi Christian, attend to the least of these; relieve the poor, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned, for in doing so we serve Christ." To practice effective compassion that truly serves the needy instead of just making givers feel righteous, what kinds of activities along these lines do you recommend?

STAUB: Compassion starts with a commitment to serve God, not money; to lay up treasures in God's kingdom, not on earth; and to be a steward of our time and resources. Donating money helps, but donating time and talent in ongoing relationships as opposed to random acts of kindness is what makes a lasting difference.

An inventory of our resources is a first step toward serving other people. Depending on our skills, we can tutor kids in after-school programs, help single moms learn basic skills like opening a bank account and balancing it each month, or offer ex-cons a chance to apply for jobs in our family-owned company. Real compassion involves helping people take responsibility for the relationship between the way they think and their actions. Discerning the true need and receptivity to change in "the least of these" can only be done on a case-by-case basis, but in general, underdevelopment is a state of mind and what giver and recipient alike need is the transformed mind that comes through spiritual renewal.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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