Have you ever considered the difference between wishful thinking and genuine faith? I believe there are several layers of a pseudo-faith which starts with wishful thinking. It might be relevant because there are many people who say they believe in Jesus but do not seem to manifest a life of faith. Here are my thoughts:
When Faith Is Wishful Thinking Some people are great at considering an idea but never are convinced in any serious way that it will actually happen. There is no conception that it could happen so it dies as an idea. They can’t imagine it actually happening so nothing happens.
When Faith Is About Possibilities “Faith” moves from wishful thinking to a possibility when we start examining the options, avenues, and resources to actually start pulling a plan together, making the idea a possibility. Possibility tends to focus on overcoming all the obstacles that would keep something from actually happening. It is one step closer than wishful thinking because we are actually figuring out if this can be realized.
When Faith Is About Probabilities The only way to get past “possibility,” to probability, is simply motivation, once the obstacles are accounted for and removed. Probability embraces the fact that there are enough factors to support the idea and that it can be done if someone is motivated enough to make it happen. The issue is not inability anymore, but whether the person is willing or unwilling to move in that direction.
When Faith Is Genuine Once we come to the conclusion that there are no obstacles keeping us from realizing the idea, there are enough resources to make something happen, and we are willing to take the right steps to make this happen, then we have faith. Faith is the assurance of what is hoped for and the conviction of what is not yet seen. Faith engages and acts based on both the possibility and probability that this will happen if we do something.
Just in case some of that is unclear let me illustrate the ideas here and suggest some ways of thinking about faith:
Wishful Thinking Faith Many people believe they have faith (if we can call it faith) where they would love to serve God, make an impact on others, see God do amazing things but they never take the idea seriously enough to get past wishful thoughts. They are often too selfish, too busy, too lazy, or too distracted to exercise genuine faith (Luke 9:57-62).
Possibility Faith Some people have a faith that only considers the possibility of things but they usually cannot figure out how to get past the obstacles to make it happen. Sometimes people would love to see something happen but can’t be bothered to put in the energy and effort to see it happen. Usually this reflects finite thinking and the limitations of self. But the real issue is not believing God (Numbers 13:25-33).
Probability Faith This is where people are usually convinced that something could happen but they think this is someone else’s responsibility not theirs. Sadly, often nothing happens because someone is waiting for God to do something extraordinary rather than face the responsibility of genuine faith (Luke 16:19-31)
Genuine Faith True faith believes that something is not just a good idea and has possibilities but they are fully convinced God has brought enough “factors” together in life with His leading that makes a situation a probability. It is faith only when God’s people are convinced of God’s promises or His leading. Our faith response is indispensable to seeing God work powerfully (Joshua 3:14-17; Romans 4:20-21; Hebrews 11:1).
My wife and I are looking forward to Christmas because we were hoping to connect with our kids. The last time we saw them was six months ago in June. We had traveled up to Calgary to celebrate my mom’s 85th birthday. Our times with our kids are few and far between because we live in Minnesota. My son lives in Portland, Oregon, and my daughter Colleen lives in Langley, British Columbia. Since Colleen has been in Ireland for the last three months, she will not be able to fly home and then turn around and fly back here. Since the kids came out this way last year we decided to consider going out there this year, but with Christmas Day landing on a Sunday the issue is more complicated than normal. So while we were hoping to fly out to the west coast it was initially wishful thinking. Somewhere during our thinking process it had to move to a faith step.