Meditation on God Words by making it shorter and yet not loosing any meaning requires hard work but it is extremely useful and powerful. We use Php 3:7-15 as an example with a mind-map to show how. Learn the wisdom gained too.Most meditation teachings on God's Words go by adding and extending the meaning the of the words. Another effective meditation technique is by reduction. It is about reducing a passage into a tagline and still not lose its meaning. This is different from giving a title; for a title is just a rough outline. It is like writing a precis. You can be shorter but you cannot lose its meaning. Making it shorter allows us to remember it better and we can chew over it the whole day. It can sink into our heart and affect our mental state and the decisions that we make. That is the purpose of meditation after all.
Making things simpler and shorter is great because it is easier to remember, understand and apply. But we cannot simplify too much that some key meanings are lost and misunderstanding occurs. Consider the popular story of Adam and Eve's sin from the eating of 'the tree of knowledge of good and evil'. See Knowledge Tree of Good and Evil. What is the shorter form?
Many people erroneously shorten it to "Tree of Knowledge" and then wrongly concluded that "knowledge is evil!". The accurate short form should be "Tree of Moral" because moral is about the knowledge of right and wrong. "Tree of Right & Wrong" is the right short form. In fact, a more accurate short form is "Tree of Self-Determination" because it is about Adam's decision to decide right and wrong apart from God. Adam declared to God that he shall be his own judge and want to go on his own.
The key to 'Meditation by Reduction' is then to extract the essence of passage without any loss for better memory and reflections. We shall again use the mind-mapping technique discussed earlier in the following posts:
- Meditating on God's Words using Mind-mapping
- Effective Bible Study with Mind Mapping Method using Ps 48
We shall use a very powerful passage Philippians 3:7-15 for our study and meditation by reduction.
Step 1 Split and Group Key Concepts
Here is a mind-map of the passage.
2. Move the topic to get some alignment and grouping.
We can easily see that there are many repeats of "I count as loss", "count as rubbish" etc.
3. Highlight (by color or icons) the topics that express similar concepts and see we can give a title to summarize it.
4. By going through the whole map, I can pick up 3 groupings and they are "I lose", "I gain", and "How-to" live this new life; the thinking of the mature as expressed in v15.
Step 2 Re-Organized with the Key Grouping as the first level.
1. The software provides selection filters so that I can filter out the branches with the icons and paste them over a new map. You could delete the less important branches and just keep the icon'ed branches work on the same map. But you will lose the trace.
2. The re-organized new map will look like this:
Step 3 Thinking of the Mature Believers - Simplification Again & Again
1. Try to remove, shorten and re-group without losing meaning the various concepts. Keep the key branch, e.g. "from the law", to ensure precise meaning is not lost.
2. Coming out with a Tag-line.
The final extraction should come out with a tagline that summarizes the whole passage.
Please make sure we don't lose any meanings in the passage without simplification.
I came out with 2 tag-lines, either one will do, for your consideration.
3. Surprise, Surprise!
When I came out with the tag-line, I was straight away reminded of similar verses in other parts of the Bible. In this case, the passage of Paul is precisely what Jesus said in John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches and apart from me, you can do nothing. Paul has given us a very good exposition on Jesus' word. You will be rewarded with your diligent study of God's words.
See also We can do Nothing apart from Jesus.
4. Meditate on the Tag-line with additions
Now that we got the tag-line, we can go back to meditation with additions; but this time, we are to be guided by the context of the passage. I have added in some key reflections on the map as an example. Feel free to add more to your own map.
Here is the final mind-map:
Christ has owned us through the Cross.
Do we show the world that we have Christ in us?
Are we still pursuing our career, wealth, family apart from the call of Christ in us?