Acts 17:11 Archives

The Secret Place

A response to the question "What does the phrase 'secret place' mean?" and related meditations by Dean VanDruff.

Rest is well developed in Scripture. There is even a transliterated word for it: "Sabbath". Closely related is "peace".

John 14:27 (NIV) "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

The best commentary I could refer you on "Rest" is Hebrews 3:7-4:11, where the Sabbath rest we are told is not a "day", but "today"... i.e.: a state. God wants us, and has commanded us, to "enter in" and not dawdle-about wandering around in the desert. The promised land was a short journey from Egypt, but they persisted in unbelief to the point where God "swore in His wrath: you will never enter in!". Don't be like that! So this "rest" is serious business indeed.

The bottom line of rest is:

Heb 4:10 (NIV) For anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.

Catch that?

John the Baptist said it as: "I must decrease, He must increase" (Jn 3:30). It is all about the gospel: we must follow in dying-to-self so that Christ might live in us.

Ever heard the phrase "RIP"? That is how we "rest from our own work", such that we can do His work.

The "secret place" is not central to the gospel or God's eternal plan, but rather an "in the meantime" place of refreshment. The word "secret" is used both positively and negatively in Scripture, for "secrets" in the "darkness" sense (Lk 11:33), and "secret" in the sense of getting away from the hurly-burly of life. (Ps 91:1)

On my heart for the past year is a passion for "sanctuary", to be "hidden in God". I suppose the "secret place" is one way of putting this, if perhaps not the best. More emotionally, the "refuge" "the courts of the Lord" or "strong tower" or "safe place" or "temple of the living God" is where we run to. Sanctuary is where God is.

Ps 84:2 (NIV) My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

What strikes me about "the secret place" beyond as a synonym for sanctuary is the distinction of this particular phrase vs. the "public place", and how this rebukes modern religious expression. How many "praise leaders" really praise with such gusto when there is no audience? How many well-worded prayers that nobody but God hears? How many bible studies or fine teaching with few or no participants? We have it backwards from Jesus. Jesus saw crowds of people as a vexation, we as "success in ministry". He did everything He could to avoid them, we bend over backwards to draw them in. Jesus knew that the crowds shouting "Hosanna" one day would be shouting "crucify Him" the next, thus He did not give His heart over to them, knowing what was in them (Jn 2:24-25). He could only tolerate large groups of people around Him for so long and then "escaped" to get "reset" with the Father alone on the mountain, or with his inner circle of friends. Can we learn something from His wisdom in this, or will we imitate evil, and be "successful" in the circus-church system?

I have this absurd image of a praise team singing a song entitled "secret place" under the spotlights, on an elevated stage, making sure to "emote" all they can with their eyes closed for effect, so that the audience might feel blessed.

The Secret Place, as opposed to the Pulpit, the Stage, the Spotlight. WWJD? Jesus might seize the public moment--as He often did--but not with a sense of "success" or feeling "at home" but like a man confronted with a rattle-snake. He was on-edge, knowing that: "Beware when men speak well of you, for this is how false prophets are regarded". (Lk 6:26) He was aiming to please the Father, and this was more difficult in the spiritually "noisy" environment of a mob. Most all of Jesus' public teachings are painfully strident and terse, filled with acrimony and tension. Even the softer spoken sermon on the mount is outrageously confrontive in meaning. As for being in the Public Place, one can't help but conclude that Christ detested it, and loved to excape to the Secret Place. See any people around you like Jesus? Maybe you will have to be first?

Luke 9:18 (NIV) Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?"

Jesus did some of His most profound and loving teaching walking along the road with a few close friends, reclining at dinner tables and in living rooms, speaking to small ad-hoc groups in the temple grounds, conversing around wells. While we hear of Him praising God in public (Luke 10:21), imagine what it must have been like when He was alone or with those of like mind (Luke 9:28-36).

John 5:41,44 (NIV) "I do not accept praise from men... How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?"

Do we thrill at public acclaim and hate to be alone; or are we growing more like Him to be deeply and instinctively suspicious of public acclaim, and where we long to retreat into that sanctuary of Him?

Rom 8:29 (NIV) For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

3Jo 1:11 (NIV) Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

1Cor 2:1 (NIV) When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.

2Cor 10:10 (NIV) For some say, "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing."

1Cor 11:1 (NIV) Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

Phi 3:17-21 (NIV) Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

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