Does “Like Attract Like?”

A woman once asked what she could say to a friend with a serious illness who was trying to heal herself by meditating on positive spiritual energies. Her friend’s belief goes beyond the power of positive thinking, for it is based on what some claim is the principle that governs the spiritual realm, namely the law of attraction or “like attracts like.” Practically speaking, this means that as people focus or meditate on uplifting concepts such as love, peace and joy that they attract spiritual energies of a like nature that bring wholeness and harmony to body and soul. Conversely, if they dwell on fear, anger, and pessimism and allow negativity to consume them, they open the door to disease, conflict, and catastrophe. This means that when someone is faced with a debilitating, life-threatening disease, he or she must search for the cause, remain positive no matter how dire the news, and associate with upbeat, optimistic people, preferably ones who share their worldview. According to them, the bottom line is that people are not only responsible for how they respond, but for actual conditions in their lives.

Is this true? Surely, no human being should be held responsible for everything that happens to him or her—it’s too heavy a burden to bear and it’s not right. Say, a gentle man, who is a pillar in his community and a conscientious family man, sees the light turn green, looks both ways, and steps into the crosswalk. Suddenly, a car careens around the corner and hits him, shattering his legs. In addition to the physical, psychological, and personal healing that must occur, should he search his soul for darkness that attracted the accident? Should he avoid emotional family members in order to associate with positive, upbeat people? Or should the woman with a serious illness that leaves her isolated, fatigued, and pained also probe her soul for the wrong thinking and attitude that attracted the disease?

Our deepest instincts say no—it’s not fair. Children do not “attract” predators to molest them; citizens in third world countries do not “attract” malevolent dictators to ravage them; the mentally-ill, homeless poor do not “attract” abject poverty; and women ravaged by breast cancer have not invited the disease. Human beings are morally responsible for how they respond to conditions in their lives, but they cannot control what happens to them. The law of attraction is simply wrong and when sincerely and genuinely embraced, it crushes the human spirit—it is simply too much to bear.

The spiritual law of attraction is upside down from a Christian worldview. Christians understand that God created us as finite beings, which means that we cannot possess all knowledge or control all events in life. We understand that the problem of evil is real and that very bad things happen to good people. Yet, by faith we know that our Good Shepherd walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death—we do not fear evil (Ps. 23:4). We trust him to sustain, protect, and carry us through hard times. Jesus Christ said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29). Indeed, his rest is profound. Jesus invites us to call his name when distressed, diseased, and overwhelmed. Our natural inclination is to shudder, to fall on guard, to retreat, and to figure it out ourselves. But he says, “Come to me,” and when he calls and we turn to him, his love is irresistible, for he is the most powerful and true spiritual attraction in heaven and earth.

Categories Pastoral | Posted on February 7, 2012 by

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