Every now and again, some media outlet creates an article or video that goes, “Listen up! We have new insight into life that will change your world!” But thing is, these secular bits of wisdom, revelations, or perspective-changing truths are never anything new. All truth is age-old truth. As King Solomon said, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”
Every foundational truth stems from one source. Here we can see where these “new” revelations originated. At least, here are a few examples:
“It’s the Inside that Matters.”
This mantra becomes popular quite often, as soon as people feel pushed too far by pressure to look perfect. Dove (of Dove soap) has been running a campaign and commercials that esteem inward beauty above make-up and model mien. We all want to know we are worth more than our looks. As magazines and marketing get shoved in our faces, remembering to focus on internal beauty is great advice.
But hey, isn’t that written in the Bible already?
1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes, but from the inner disposition of your heart, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.“
Note that braiding hair and looking pretty isn’t condemned, but rather there’s a priority placed on cultivating the inner person.
“Stuff Doesn’t Make Us Happy.”
Another theme that pops up as “shocking” or “forward-thinking” is the idea that working 9-5 to keep up with payments for a nice car, house, and tv doesn’t have to be the goal lifestyle. For some people, possessions don’t equal happiness.
So out come the numerous wanderlust articles about people who sold it all. They go out on adventures, spending savings on plane tickets and hoarding up memories instead of furniture.
The leave-it-all-behind, nomadic lifestyle is becoming increasingly mainstream, but today’s hype over homeless travel with one backpack of stuff doesn’t overshadow Thoreau. It’s just a realization that’s reappearing.
In the 1840s, Henry David Thoreau made a big name for himself through his pugnant distaste for the growing trap of materialism that he saw through his neighbors. He went out to live in the woods and owned nothing more than bare essentials, and wrote about it in his book Walden.
Although the Bible teaches us to work so that we have something to share, and that riches are not evil if we use them properly, there’s a motif that matches what’s in a minimalist backpacker’s heart: possessions don’t last, and they don’t fulfill.
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Okay, we’ve all seen the chick flicks (yup, even you men). There’s a guy the protagonist is chasing. She loses him or finds out he isn’t so great. In the end, she falls instead for her perfect match: someone she never took much notice of and was always herself around. Tah-Dah! Which movies or stories does this plot make you think of? Maybe an oldie like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or how about a modern one like 27 Dresses? It goes through the ages.
What’s that ultimate truth these books and movies teach girls to strive for? To be themselves and not run around after men, right?? It’s all about waiting, and while waiting, like the first tid bit above, cultivate that inner self to the best she can be (Proverbs 31). Al final, men are supposed to be the pursuers, that’s how they are wired, the way they were created.
When a guy finds a woman worth pursuing, he might be sitting on the sidelines for a while, but will make his move eventually, whether awkwardly like Mr. Darcy or skillfully like Kevin Doyle (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should definitely watch the two movies [or read, for the first one] mentioned).
Here’s this incredible wisdom spelled out in the Bible, written even before Ms. Austen.
The whole book of Ruth works, but just this one verse will do:
Song of Songs 8:4 “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until the time is right.”
Do Unto Others As Yourself
The full “Golden Rule” goes, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s pretty common knowledge that this isn’t just a quote, but a verse from the Bible (Matthew 7:12). Then why has it become such a secularized saying? Teachers said it to us in school, parents used it to convince us to share when we were younger, and it’s scrawled across the prefaces of many children’s books.
Traveling through South East Asia for more than a year helped me better understand the Buddhist, Taoist, and Animistic faiths. This golden rule lives within the secular world because it also fits in the contexts of yin and yang and/or karma. You get what you give out. It can also be seen as new-age.
While these ideologies are only half-truths (see next paragraph for a little on why), the original truth of the Bible says we were born selfish, with a corrupted, fallen human nature. The way God intended us to live, before the fall, was to love and selflessly help one another.
And what do you know? When you act kindly towards others, others are more apt to act kindly towards you. What a good tip! It’s insight into the way God designed relationships to be.
*Note on Karma:
While in Cambodia, a woman named Pheakdey told us her testimony, her life story. From her experiences in a Buddhist society, I learned that karma is like this: if something bad happens to you or if you were born deformed in any way, it’s your fault. No one should help you because the misfortune you are receiving in this life is the result of some sin from the previous one. This is what Pheakdey was told when she lost her leg in an accident.
Her story completely changed my view on the meaning of karma. I’ve heard the word thrown around so lightly, I had never imagined it to be something so nefarious.
There are truths, or half-truths, floating around all over the place out there! But it will sure get confusing if you don’t know their contexts and where they came from.
Satan is the author of confusion and can use just a little bit of truth to get us stuck in a tangle of lies. So keep an eye out! If you see a new philosophy, bring it back to the Bible. You’ll find out if any part of it is true, and what’s not. Especially remember what the wise, old King Solomon said, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” 🙂