The best kept secrets usually aren’t
June 22, 2022
Have you ever allowed someone to confide in you only for them to share something unwarranted and unwanted, something truly ugly? Such a predicament is usually of our own making as we rise to the surface and take the bait. Truth is, gossip tends to be a central element in casual small groups. We dress it up as information that simply must be shared out of concern for friends and neighbors, but too often it devolves into nothing more than click bait and abuse of prayer chains.
Secrets are hard to dismiss, especially when imagining them to impart exclusive knowledge. Christian Gnosticism underscores the notion that salvation is tied to special knowledge bordering on the mysterious, the mystical and the magical. The origin of second century Gnosticism is discoverable in a variety of religious groups that coalesced into a movement that has ebbed and flowed over the centuries.
Truth and enlightenment go hand in hand with the ministry of Jesus, but not so well with secret handshakes, cryptic statements, passwords and black balls. The transparency that Jesus maintained included asking questions and encouraging people to think beyond themselves, even when it became frustrating for some.
Some of the best kept secrets of Christianity keep getting lost in the hubbub surrounding them. That usually happens when we attempt to wrest ownership of scriptures from their original contexts, inviting gnostic-like approaches to interpretation. As long as scripture remains cloaked in vague understandings and secret passwords, as long as one must belong to an exclusive group to receive the benefits of grace, as long as religion perpetuates harmful stereotypes of race, creed, color, gender, sexuality, and religiosity based on our own fears and selfishness, it is simply a reflection of who we are and not an emulation of Christ.
However, there is hope. Another best kept secret of Christianity is its call for inclusiveness. It matters not where you came from, where you are heading, how ardently and piously you have embraced the faith, or who you are trying to impress by using all the current jargon and buzz words of religion. Each day, each moment, each encounter with others represents opportunities for fresh starts, for new beginnings where one can drink in great draughts of kindness, tenderness, gentleness and forgiveness. It’s there right before us, no secret knocks on the door to be admitted, no initiations needing to prove one’s worthiness, no misappropriation of grace, and no fear. In short, no coercion in matters of faith is something worth attending to the next time we go off on someone else’s spirituality.
The hurt, pain, and intolerance of many who are hellbent in tearing down ‘those people’ is, sadly, no secret in Christianity. A once-a-week feel good faith can be a motivator, but it’s not enough. Giving lip service to faith ideals is not enough. Once one has experienced grace in any of its many forms, it is near impossible not to return to the healing pool.
As it turns out, the best kept secrets of the church are no secrets at all. When something comes along this good, there is no containing it. It just has to be shared.