Second Hand Spirituality

Second Hand Spirituality

Which do you think is more rewarding? To see a movie for yourself or to experience the cinema from a friend’s viewpoint? Most of us would opt for the first-hand experience.

Can we truly know a person without a personal encounter? Without real-time, “getting-to-know” that person, we will make assumptions based on what someone else thinks. We settle for Second-hand judgements.


With infinitesimal knowledge virtually at our fingertips, we tend to glean our information from the research of others. We fail to check the source of the information and repeat what we’ve heard or read as if indeed fact.

Sometimes we are corrected because someone has taken the time to verify the veracity of what we have spread as “gospel.” We are embarrassed because once again we’ve succumbed to “fake news,” an embarrassment that might have been avoided if we had taken the time to dig deeper for ourselves instead of relying on rumor and innuendo. We settle for Second-hand knows.

I am reminded of the commercial where the young girl was certain her date was “French.” After all, she met him on the Internet. Whatever was on the Internet had to be true.

With the vast knowledge virtually at our fingertips, we expect to become “experts” without putting forth a lot of effort. Yet, WebMD, no matter how much we read, will not make us a reliable doctor.

Though true, online degrees are becoming more and more popular, most credible programs still require some facetime with professors and the learning institution.

Perhaps this dependence upon others for our knowledge has seeped into our spiritual lives as well.

We are content to know “about” God, rather than “taste and see that the Lord is Good” (Psalm 34:8a). We become content with Second-hand glows.

The story is told how Henry Ward Beecher, one of the most popular preachers in the United states during the 19th century, grew his church attendance by thousands. On one occasion when Reverend Beecher was away, the substitute preacher, aware that Reverend Beecher was the bigger draw, addressed the crowd: “All those who came to worship Dr. Beecher may leave. All those who came to worship the Lord may stay in their seats.”

In our modern culture, we still tend to place our spiritual development into the hands of a best-selling author than placing our trust in The Author of the Universe.

Sheila Walsh says in Women of Faith Devotional Bible, “I think we Christians have become lazy. We would rather read a book about him or how someone else became closer to God than spend time alone with him ourselves. We would rather listen to someone else’s interpretation of the Word of God than read it for ourselves. And yet we alone are accountable for what we believe.”

While God has used many prophets in the past and in the present to help us learn about our Savior, there is still no substitute for a knowledge that has come from a contrite heart that seeks his glorious presence. Only the Lord himself can provide the peace that passes understanding, not through handouts of his heralds, but rather by walking hand in hand with him.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17b-19 NIV).

About Linda Wood Rondeau

Award-winning author Linda Wood Rondeau writes blended contemporary fiction that demonstrates, once surrendered to God, our worst past often becomes our best future. Retired from her long career in human services, she enjoys being able to play golf year around. Readers may visit her website and blog, called Snark and Sensibility.


  1. Laurie Driesen says:

    Such a good point Linda. Knowing about God can not replace the intimacy with Him that is so important and so precious. Intimacy with God means that we come to Him on His terms. I guess many people don’t like the accountability that comes with an intimate relationship with God. I’m so glad you wrote about it – Such an important point!

Speak Your Mind