I just finished watching a 2004 film called "Finding Neverland". It was fairly good with one recurring theme; believe! Believe what, they did not say. There was a lot of believing in the positive; believe and it will come true; believe in love, happiness and joy; but there was no real substance to this command to believe.
I am not trying to take away from the movie which lifted up the idea that we should never allow anything more than our bodies to grow old. How could I, a big kid at heart, argue against such a notion. I won't and you can't make me. However, my concern in this is that children know the difference between the make-believe world and reality whereas sometimes adults do not. It is when we can't tell the difference that we end up convincing ourselves that something based in a lie can be true.
Positive thinking is something that has crept into the Church over the years. There is a difference between positive thinking and thinking positively. I do believe in myself insofar as I believe in the great abilities God has given to me. But I also know that just because I think positive about a situation that in itself will not be enough to change the situation.
The Church is getting really bad at this. So often I hear the words "Just believe" without any substance to them. Just believe what? That life is great? That disease just goes away by positive thinking? That I will get a new job by willing it into existence? Just believe what? It is becoming more religious jargon that we say because we do not know what else to say.
One of my favorite incidences from the gospels is the one with the father who brought his son for healing. Jesus had just come down out of the mountains after the transfiguration. It had been a spiritual high for him. Now he was trying to ease back into the work at hand. But here was this desperate dad who the disciples could not help. He quickly turned to Jesus when Jesus arrive. This is the conversation between them:
Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"
"From childhood," he answered. "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:21-24)
I do believe! Does that remind you of the scene where everyone needs to say they do believe in ferries for Tinkerbell to live? Well, it shouldn't because God does not exist because we believe in him. God has always existed and will always exist, whether we believe or not. What the father was being challenged in was whether he believed Jesus had the authority to heal. In essence he was being asked if he believed Jesus.
You see, it is not believing that is the power or even faith; where the real power lay is with the one we believe in. Faith is not the power, the one we have faith in is the real power. We are not saved because we believe, we are saved because of the one in whom we believe. We are not healed by the power of faith; we are healed by the one we put our faith into. There is a huge difference and it is about time we begin to recognize that.
I can sit on my bed and say "I believe" until the cows come home but it is not going to heal me. But if I understand the promises of God and put our faith in the one who made those promises and believe he desires to heal us, then we will be healed. I believe in his power, authority and love. I don't trust mine. I believe; in Jesus Christ.
So, keep your Neverland and the need to believe just for the sake of believing. I will keep my belief that Jesus is exactlt who he said he was.