6.19.2007

"The Secret" vs "The Serenity Prayer"

I had never heard of The Secret by Rhonda Byrne until our pastor Jim Birchfield mentioned it in a sermon and called it "diabolical". At that wonderful endorsement, though, I went out and bought it and read it. I concluded that it was nothing particularly new, and that it was diabolical only as much as is anything diabolical when it puts forth a distortion of reality and calls it truth.

The central distortion in the book is in what parts of life are under my control and what parts are not, and in how I can exercise proper control over those parts that are mine to control, and in how I can cope with those parts of life over which I have little or no influence. So the book leads to a mixture of a neurotic attempt to control that which is not mine to control, a character-disordered refusal to accept responsibility for that which is truly my responsibility, and a psychotic break with reality as I attempt to replace truth with my fantasies.

A simple antidote to this confusion is found in the original serenity prayer penned by Rheinhold Neibuhr and paraphrased commonly through the 12-step programs as "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." There is tremendous spiritual and psychological power in simply viewing reality clearly and focusing my energy on the things that God would have me attempt to control, and in trusting His goodness and sovereignty with the rest.

I still find no better guide to understanding my world and my place in it -- and the actions that calls for, and the faith and surrender that calls for -- than the Bible. In it I see God revealed as One Who seeks my companionship and love and service, and a Kingdom come that promises abundant life.

I have stopped looking for The Secret, because I am becoming intimately acquainted with the One Who ordered chaos in order to know you and me. We walked away from Him in the garden to pursue The Secret, and so the fact that many would still prefer to do just that is not at all surprising. What is surprising is that Christians react as if it were something new.

This battle is already won. And I get to enjoy the victory feast with the LOGOS Who shines light on darkness, even when that darkness calls itself light. I don't think Paul would preach against The Secret. I think he'd use it to point people back to Jesus.

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness" can be paraphrased in the language of The Secret to "focus on the greatest source of riches and satisfaction in life", and then there's the punch-line: we don't attract it by our thoughts! It is a free gift, given by a Creator God Who seeks us out to lead us into real riches.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

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