RR9: The “Law” of Attraction v. the Law of God

Some call it the Law of Attraction.  Others, including the author of this week’s reading assignment, Dr. Henriette Anne Klauser, call it “polishing coconuts.”   An alarmingly large number of people follow a cultish religion based upon it called The Secret.  It is the idea that one can attain success or happiness by concentrating thought energy on one’s goals, and it is taking America by storm.  The basic principles behind it claim that you attract triumphs or failures by dwelling on positive or negative thoughts, respectively.  Dr. Klauser’s particular brand of this mindset claims that when you write down your goals, you put out an attractive kind of energy that ensures success – and suddenly, your dreams become reality.  In order to get the results you need, you simply stir the proverbial pot, polish the proverbial coconuts.  You write it down to make it happen.

 

It all sounds so wonderful at the surface; it promises a fast, easy, foolproof highway to success.  But there is something intrinsically, horribly wrong with the idea presented in Dr. Klauser’s article.  It leaves God out of the picture.  True, some people who cling to this idea that I call the Law of Attraction also claim Christianity — but by their deeds they deny its power.  By definition, the Law of Attraction demands that its followers trust in the influence of their own actions to make their dreams come true.  However, we serve a sovereign God who holds all power on earth.  God determines the success or failure of our human endeavors, not us.  Nothing we do can change what He decrees – not writing it down, not “polishing coconuts,” not thinking good thoughts.  Consider Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”   Rather than trusting in the false hope of our own strength to ensure the success of our personal goals, let us rather pray that the Lord would guide our steps, our pens, and our hearts to His glory.

~c. a.

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8 thoughts on “RR9: The “Law” of Attraction v. the Law of God

  1. celestes9artiste 12.3.09 — 10:10 pm

    You make some true points about our dependency on God. However I think there’s another way of looking at it that won’t necessarily exclude God from the picture.

    Often when we contemplate our future actions, we develop a preset notion as to the outcome of our actions. Either we decide we will succeed or we decide that we will fail. When we expect to succeed, we move forward with whatever action is before us. When we expect to fail, we shrink from it and thus become a self-fulfilled prophesy. Many things in life can be achieved much easier than our minds will allow us to think. Due to our past experiences or our self-esteem levels we will determine to fail and thus shrink back from life’s opportunities.

    Throughout the bible we are told that with God we can do anything. When we follow him, we should determine to succeed for we are called more than conquerors. It is in this way that the concept of thinking something into being takes place. The winning or losing when we are with God is *always* in our mind. We can only lose when we choose to lose.

    1. Hmmm…good thoughts. Something I think I could have shown better in my response is that I totally agree with the brain research portion of Klauser’s article.

      However (and that’s with a capital H), Klauser spent just a paragraph or two on the scientific aspect of writing goals down, and took off on a different tangent, the part which I responded to. That is, that we put out a sort of mystical “energy” when we write things down that somehow makes things magically work out.

      I would disagree with you on one point, and actually I don’t know that I’m disagreeing with you, just adding a qualifier. I do not believe that if I write down on a piece of paper, “I am going to own a Ferari in three years,” and trust God, I will own a Ferari in three years, simply because “with God all things are possible.” True, with God all things are possible…but they will only come about if He ordains them. “Possible” doesn’t equal “going to happen.” That’s the first thing.

      The second is that we can not and should not use God to achieve our own goals. Rather, we should seek to further His glory, His kingdom. “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added after.” (paraphrase) I guess my point here is that we shouldn’t focus on our selves, because we’re nothing — just dust. We should focus on God because He is Everything.

      I don’t know if any of that makes sense…please feel free to continue the comment-conversation if I’m not expressing myself very well. Thanks for being willing to bring up some different angles!

      1. celestes9artiste 12.4.09 — 1:29 am

        I would agree with you, but just because we should seek to further the influence of his glory and kingdom doesn’t mean we should cease our own personal endeavors.

        Remember the passage where it says that God gives us the desires of our hearts? I believe that to mean that he gives us the *desires* not necessarily the fulfillment of those desires. I believe it is our job to follow God and at the same time seek to find the fulfillment of the desires he has placed inside of us. Obviously, don’t seek fulfillment in the wrong places, but there is nothing wrong with (for example) working towards getting better at art or writing. That’s the very reason that we’re taking this class, it’s to get better at something we’re interested in (of which God gave us the desire).

        Think of it as the parable of the servants and the pieces of gold that the king gives to them to use. The king gives it to them and tells them to “‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.'” He’s not staying and walking them through it hand and hand going “don’t do that, do this. Do this instead of that.” He’s entrusting them something of himself.

        Now, the first servant takes the ten pieces and increases it another ten. Awesome job! The second takes the ten pieces given to him and increases it five more. Now, you could say, that the second one did worse of a job because he didn’t get ten more pieces, but the amount doesn’t matter. It is simply *that* he did it.

        The third servant is the one that sealed his failure by choosing to *not do anything* with the gold.

        It’s exactly what I was talking about earlier. Either we decide to succeed or we decide to fail. Failure is simply choosing to not try. Succeeding is doing *something* and finding the good of whatever happens.

        If the goal is always to increase, then if you do *something* you will always succeed. Because God works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

        This isn’t to say that you should go find the worst way to do something knowing that God can just fix it up. But my point is that no matter *what* we do, something good *will* come of it. So if we simply choose to do *something* then we will always succeed. Obviously, do your best in everything that you do.

        The only failure is in the decision to bury the stuff that God has given us to work with.

        Does that make sense?

      2. celestes9artiste 12.4.09 — 1:32 am

        Ahh, here we go. Our personal endeavors (provided we follow God) will further the kingdom and glory of God, because he gives us the desires of our hearts. When we take that and run with it and *do something* with it, we will be furthering the kingdom by doing what God placed in front of us to do.

  2. Thanks for clarifying, that does make more sense…I totally agree that we should hone our skills, follow God-honoring interests, etc. I hope it didn’t sound like I didn’t! God gives us gifts and interests, and we should use them for His glory. As far as I can tell, we’re on the same page there.

    The one thing that may be tripping me up is the phrase “desires of our hearts”…my dad and I just had a conversation about a tape series he listened to recently by a guy who took that phrase and used it to say that God gives us whatever we want (I think…I didn’t hear the series). I think I’ve developed a bit of a prejudice to those particular words. =)I don’t think that’s what you’re saying here, though.

    Maybe a better way to put my thoughts is this: God gives us gifts, abilities, and interests. We should seek to use these for His glory, and a helpful way to do so is to write them down. This does not guarantee material success, though it may help us in that. But so long as we do it to His glory, we succeed. The moment we start doing it for our own glory, we fail in God’s eyes.

    By “His glory,” I mean that we should strive to glorify God in everything that we do, whether we eat or drink or sleep or wake or write or take pictures or play tennis, we should live our lives as a constant sacrifice to Him. By Him, through Him, and to Him…that’s what we need to be living.

    Let me know if that makes sense. Thanks again for your input.

    1. celestes9artiste 12.4.09 — 4:10 am

      Ahh, no that’s not what I meant at all. My point about God giving us the desires of our heart is not that we get whatever we want but rather he gives us the dreams. Like… when we are living for him and we want something, it’s because he gave us that desire. See what I mean?

      Here’s a question… what is glory? And what does “glorify” mean?

      Jesus asked the Father to glorify Jesus so that in return he could glorify the Father. How can we glorify God without receiving glory from the Father? If we don’t have glory to begin with, we can’t give glory to God because we don’t have it to give. Should we not seek out the glory of God so that we have something to give?

    2. Let me think on that one a bit. It’s a good question, and one I haven’t really considered. Today is kinda busy, but I’ll mull it over and get back to you.

  3. Ok, I’m back. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, we’ve had a crazy week, plus I felt like I needed to give this some thought before I replied.

    Merriam-Webster defines glory as “worshipful praise, honor and thanksgiving.” So I guess I’d say that we glorify God when we honor Him, praise Him, thank Him, live for Him. John Piper says that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” I know that’s not a full explanation, but hopefully I’ll clarify in the next couple of paragraphs.

    As for your point about us needing glory from the Father before we can return it, if I’m understanding you correctly, I agree with you. Glory must originate in God. When Jesus died and rose again, all of the people that God choose to save (I use past tense because all times are present to God…therefore people that haven’t even been born yet are saved) died with Him and rose with Him…were glorified with Him (Romans 6). So the glory that we return to God was given to us by God through no merit or choice of our own. That’s how I would see it…is that what you meant?

    Assuming that that is true (I’m no theologian, and I admit I may be wrong in my understanding), then we could say that we glorify God when we obey Him, honor Him, praise Him, when we are right before Him. The only way that we can do that, however, is if He glorifies us first by granting us repentance and new life. So, by seeking out the glory of God, we would be seeking out His righteousness to live out the glory He has given us…and in so doing we would also be glorifying Him. Would you agree?

    I think I’d like to do some studying in the Word on the subject and talk to my dad and get his perspective on this…it’s getting into kinda deep waters and I’m not that confident in my understanding of the issue, not having done much study on it. It’s a new way of looking at things, or maybe just a deeper way. Thanks for opening it up! Who’d-a thought we’d get into a discussion on glory from an article on polishing coconuts? =)

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