Good Sunday Morning All.
I am so looking forward to church this morning that I thought I would send along a note – if you’re in the Windsor Area – drop in and see us – this morning I will be telling EVERYONE – “The Secret.” My hope is that at the end of liturgy this morning it will no longer be a secret and more and more people will hear what this sensation is all about. So if you have been curious about “the Secret” – save yourself some money – there is no need to buy the book or the video. I will tell you this morning. Please don’t tell the producer – Rhonda Byrne that I am about to "spill the beans" that she is so busy counting.
More to follow after I share it with the church! (If I give it all away here – who will come to hear it? – this of course is all a part of “the secret.?
Rhonda Byrne is the producer of “the Secret.” She and her people espouse the “law of attraction” as the answer to all that is troubling, all that is problematic and all that is constricting. There are those who have quite self-righteously pronounced to the rest of the world that what they really need is “The Secret.” It is quite well packaged in the motif of the Davinci Code with scrolls and wax seals and hearkens to mystery and the mystic and is attractive to many. Even the name of this prepackaged self help is a great marketing coup – what better to sell than a secret – everyone is anxious to hear a secret. Ultimately thought – nothing in this is new and it is certainly NO secret.
Now why was I speaking to this today? – Well the Gospel today is a reminder about the sinfulness of self-righteousness. Jesus had commissioned 70 people to go out and be disciples for the kingdom. They did so. They came back and were very proud to tell Jesus of their conquest over demons and the power that they possessed. In what was a complete ignorance of who gave them that authority in the first place these folks proudly told Jesus of their great ability. Jesus does not accept this with bravdo but instead reminds those called of a little thing called humbleness. His reminder is gentle and loving and it is assuring as he reminds them that their names are already written in the kingdom of heaven. It was a reminder that the glory is God’s and that we who are disciples are servants – not masters. Nowadays this is not valued so much. In fact some circles of Christianity are preaching something called the prosperity gospel which essentially posits that if you are praying right and living right then God will “bless you” with riches. Now the self-righteousness of the 70 was probably very bold in the day of Jesus of Nazareth. But today we often see this behaviour and see it as an annoyance of personality but it really is more than that. While our society gladly promotes individualism and “every man for himself” it is not ultimately of God and certainly not a part of God’s agenda. We have all been subject to being told that someone else’s answers are the answer for us. We may have even been guilty of trying to tell others that our way is the right way. This behavior is very prevalent. Theologian Barbara Brown Taylor reminds us that this behavior is very destructive and indeed sinful:
“In a culture that sanctions every individual’s right to seek his or her own path to perfection, self-righteousness can seem only an irritating character flaw. One person decides that steaming vegetables is the responsible way to eat and turns pale when her friends order meat. Someone else discovers the aerobic benefits of running and begins to badger all his sedentary friends. We all do it on some level. We find something that gives us life and we want everyone else to have it too. We want to share the good we have found, whether it is as simple as a new way of losing weight or as profound as a new way of approaching God.
But when I turn my good into your duty and judge you for your failure to perform it according to my standards, then my wish for your well-being becomes something darker and more dangerous. My altruism becomes self-righteousness, which is no longer an annoying habit but a pernicious pride that works evil in the human soul.”
I quite agree with her assertion. She is making clear the need for us to step back from vain pride and arrogance and accept that we do all things by God’s grace. That to me is really THE SECRET. It is as simple as understanding that our names have already been written by God in the kingdom. It is accepting that we are loved by God, others are loved by God, and we do not always have to feel that everything is going to be alright. “The Secret” is big on the power of positive thinking and on attracting others towards self. It is big on telling others and is exceptional at getting the message out. Its positives are very positive. We as a church can learn from that as we should be sharing our secret –we should be reminding others of what Jesus reminded the disciples of in today’s Gospel – simply Love is free – Forgiveness is free – God already loves you – you are already forgiven and your name is already written on the palm of the Divine’s hand. The Secret is self directed and not God centered. I read this criticism from Wikipedia:
Prof. John Stackhouse, Professor of Theology and Culture at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada, in a commentary at his blog, calls the film "the newest packaging for Gnosticism". He portrays the film’s message as just another choice among many religions to choose from, not the "Lowest Common Denominator of all religions". And notes:
[The film] is wishful thinking that does not correspond to the way things are. Some of it does, yes, which is why people can honestly testify to good things resulting from it. But some of it does not… Stackhouse finds the good in the film "genuinely nourishing" and the bad "genuinely toxic". He makes it clear he is "…all for proper positive thinking" — the alleged good aspect of the film — and finds fault with Christian culture for not being better at it:
By God’s grace to us, we know better, we know Christ and his Gospel of new life, and yet often we have failed to speak to the spiritual realities so skillfully addressed by proponents of The Secret. The alleged toxins are, in Stackhouse’s eyes, a spiritually lethal concoction. The identified "poisons" include: blaming the victim refusal to admit" that life has worthwhile "trade-offs … [and] sacrifices It’s all about me and it’s all up to me
The secret that needs telling is that God is present with the victim and does not blame the victim for the state that she or he is in. Reading what I have read so far from this well packaged self help program, I am certain that those involved would argue that if Jesus had only known the secret, he would not have been crucified. The real secret reminds us that selflessness and sacrifice are important and were modeled by Jesus of Nazareth. The real secret, as opposed to the well polished “secret” directs energy toward service towards others instead of self promotion and preservation.
Yes today we are reminded of a secret – Jesus Loves us – and we ought to love one another.