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Stop Looking for the “Secrets” of Life

In my blog about Harold Camping and his disastrously wrong prediction about the end of the world, I received a response from my friend, an actor who’s currently on Broadway, Fred Applegate. As usual, Fred cut right to the heart of the matter – the incredible yearning we have to find “secrets” and “keys” to life. Here’s what Fred wrote:

What I find most disturbing about this, and so many other modern Christian idiocies is that so many people are so easily lead into believing that there is some kind of hidden message in the Bible that will only be revealed to a select few.   I find the whole idea that we have to somehow “rediscover” God’s message a little suspect, and that He made His message obscure and confusing, an interesting modern psychology.  Christ’s teachings are remarkably simple and concise: truly living them is nearly impossible, and usually quite uncomfortable.  We know what God said, and we still can’t get it right, and so, we desperately look for some heretofore unknown or unknowable obstacle to serve as our excuse.   Belief in “Rapture” is the ultimate escape from the hard work of living a Christlike life in a hostile world.

Fred got it right – and it’s not just about Christianity. Look at a local bookstore. The religion, self-help, business, health, and other sections are filled with books about discovering untold secrets, miracle keys, hidden principles and more.  Millions of people spend their lives looking for a miracle weight loss cure.

The truth is, life is difficult, but the information is out there and it’s just not that hard to find.

It’s not about finding a secret that will change everything – it’s about living it out day to day.

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  1. I agree with most of what has been said except this bit ‘Belief in “Rapture” is the ultimate escape from the hard work of living a Christlike life in a hostile world.’. I believe in the rapture (my hubby has a different view for the end times) but I do not focus on it. I don’t go around preaching it or looking for it. I believe that the message of the gospel, of Jesus saving us through his death and resurrection is the only message we need to be spreading and living, the rest is just extra and interpretation/opinion.

  2. I just read something by NT Wright where he used an analogy basically saying the longer you are in the dessert the lower your standards of what you drink will go. 

    Like your original article on the subject, we need to do a better job of getting the word out. People are thirsty and I believe we truly have the living water. We just need to get it out from behind the barrel of oil! 

    Great thoughts on this whole issue. Refreshing.  

  3. It’s really not that there is a ‘hidden message’ as much as we are a people who were created to search. The very core of humanity involves search. Food, shelter in our caves, and now molecular, and cosmologists searching for new elements more efficient than silicon for your iPhone. Inventing and searching is who we are. The real issue is crazies gain media attention and muddy our communities’ water. It works both ways, there are so called scientific breakthroughs trumpeted with press releases and later proven inaccurate. But without failure, or trial and error, or technology we’re relegated back to the stone age. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the one true GOD.

  4. This is interesting and timely since I am working with deep metaphors as part of my qualitative research for my dissertation. Gerald Zaltman, a market researcher from Harvard Business School and consultant at Olson and Zaltman have done in-depth interviews with thousands of people all over the world. What they have found (among other things) is that very little of what is true about ourselves and the world around us is evident at the surface. In their academic research and popular book “Marketing Metaphoria” they highlight the dearth of deep thinking and how it frequently sends individuals and organizations down wrong paths that plumbing to greater depths may have avoided. So, yes, folks like Camping may get things wrong. But I’m not sure it is reason to think that there is not more to understand about our world and our faith by digging beneath that surface.

    1. I don’t think he’s saying we should be searching or digging beneath the surface.  It’s more that we should stop searching for these hidden secrets that only a few people can know (kind of has a gnostic kind of feel to it, the idea of secret knowledge) in lieu of simply following the gospel.  Asking tough questions, searching for new insights, and finding insights through our cultural background that Christians from other cultures could not is important, and a good thing.  But, his point is that this effort should never be more important than the already very clear, non-hidden message of following God in all that we do. If our search for the “five secrets of David’s success against Goliath, and how you can use them to slay the Giants in your life” gets in the way of us loving God, loving our neighbors, serving the poor and sharing the gospel with all that we see, then maybe we should stop searching.   It’s better to lose one part than to lose it all (Matt 5:30)…maybe we should give up the search for the hidden secrets so that we don’t miss the whole point of it all. 

  5. What I find most disturbing about this, and so many other modern Christian idiocies is that so many people are so easily lead

    I kinda think it just shows who studies their Bibles and who dont.I may be wrong.

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