Have you ever read The Secret? The book sold millions of copies a few years ago. Its basic premise is that whatever energy we throw out to the Universe will be returned to us. So, the author suggested that if we project airs of success and plenty, the Universe will make us thriving and rich. Apparently millions upon millions of people wanted to learn that secret … which, I suspect, did make the author rich.
I heard my friend Leonard Sweet offer the critique recently that the philosophy of that book underscores what he calls “the Youniverse.” The book says, “It’s all about you,” to which we respond, “Amen! I like things that are all about me!” Okay. I get that. It’s just that the Bible doesn’t preach that philosophy.
The Bible says it’s all about God. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with heart and soul and mind and strength.” There’s a throne in life, and it is only large enough to seat one entity. Either God sits there or we try to. But it’s not a love seat where two can share the throne. And, according to Jesus, “The second law of life is like the first. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus did not deny that loving and caring for one’s self is important. He simply said it is not our sole or primary priority. We live in community, and we follow a Savior who was known as “the Suffering Servant.” In fact, He clearly said, “The Son of Man has come not to be served, but to serve ….”
Take a look at the disciples. Of the eleven left post-Judas, ten gave their lives for preaching about Jesus. The same was true with Paul. And the early martyrs. And think of the legions of faith-filled people who across the years have denied self and even risked or given their lives for the sake of God and neighbor.
The simple truth is, happiness (satisfaction, meaning) is not about material things. You can be incredibly rich and undeniably miserable. Lots of folks are. But, you can be of modest means while doing good and godly things, and you will have joy in your heart. What if what we sent out to the Universe was compassion, mercy, service, or a quest for meaning and purpose? If those are our prayers, then the God who created the Universe will say (to quote Jesus), “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And that God will send back to us what we asked for – compassion, mercy, and meaning. And that’s not even a secret. We’ve known it ever since Jesus said, “Whoever gives his life away for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall find it.”