Faith, Home Depot and Autosuggestion?
How about this take on faith?
"Faith is a state of mind which may be induced, or created by affirmation or repeated instructions to the subconscious mind, through the principle of autosuggestion... Your belief or faith, is the element which determines the action of your subconscious mind. There is nothing to hinder you from "deceiving" your subconscious mind when giving it instructions through autosuggestion...If you wish evidence of the power of faith, study the achievements of men and women who have employed it. At the head of the list comes the Nazarene...If there are any such phenomena as "miracles" they are produced only through the state of mind known as faith!"
That's from Think and Grow Rich for Coaches by Napoleon Hill and Will Craig. This is what passes for faith in contemporary culture. Doubt it? Read Self Esteem Soar with the Eagles. Note the many comments. Folks are inspired and motivated by it. It is totally groundless.
A cruel shortcut
If you don't believe in God but still want His stuff, this is what you come up with. Doesn't it take the ignorant credulity with which Christians are often charged to think that Jesus calmed the sea, fed the multitudes and raised Lazarus by autosuggestion? It takes even more blind belief to attempt our own great things by autosuggestion! Imagine! You can even tell yourself lies and if you gin up enough autosuggestion they will become reality. Tell that to a person dieing of cancer or to a parent whose child has just drowned in the back yard pool.
This is NOT Christian faith!
Yes, faith grasps what is yet hoped for and holds firmly to what is unseen. (Hebrews 11:1) But what is future or beyond sight is not conjured up in our minds; it is revealed by God who beckons us to trust him. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray He assured them that there was someone there to listen. So the prayer begins, "Our Father." When John saw into the throne room of heaven, there was Someone sitting on the throne. (Revelation 4)
A parable from Home Depot
When I first started work at Home Depot I made a whole show-room of kitchen and bath appliances disappear. That's a "no, no!" I pushed some buttons on my handheld phone that erased the data from the big Home Depot computer in the sky. So now prices can't be determined and printed, catalogues can't be published and sales go unnoticed. I thought I was doing exactly what I was trained to do. What to do? Didn't have to wait long. Heard my name boom out over the store speaker system. It was the head of the kitchen and bath department. I thought he'd commend me for a job well done. Instead? "Frank, what happened to all my appliances? You "no-homed" them. "Did not!," said I. (denial always works, right?) I showed him the little squiggles on my phone that proved I'd done the job right. "There's a problem with the system, I'm sure." (blame-shifting!)."Don't think so, you punched in the wrong SKUs (Stock Keeping Unit, a unique number attached to each item in the store). Well, it's a long story. Do you think a little autosuggestion would have gotten me out of this hole? Of course not. It would take a lot of autosuggestion! Wrong again!
What I did
I told my slightly annoyed department head that I was really sorry it happened. Then, "Can you show me how to fix it?" He answered, "It will be quite laborious!" That was a Friday. The following Monday after I'd done my other chores, we met over a washer. He showed me step by step what to do. Feeling really bad, I commented, "You're gonna get real sick of me this week." "Absolutely not!", he assured me. "You're de man!" (Or something like that). For the next three hours I worked to fix my mistake. I'll finish tomorrow.
Tim Keller writes so you can understand
Why have I told you this sordid story?
Well it's a parable of real faith as opposed to autosuggestion. Real faith requires two persons, the believer and the one believed in. I would have never known my mistake nor been given the opportunity to correct it had there not been a worthy department head to believe in. Apart from a department head all I'm left with is autosuggestion. It's plain to see that no matter how much of that I worked up, I'd still be in a hole. So my faith in the department head consisted in finally admitting to him that I'd blown it, eagerly soliciting his direction to fix the problem and then faithfully doing the correction no matter how laborious. And the faith came rather easily, because I like and respect this department head. He'd been helpful before and cares about how well I do. We had a relationship.
And so it is with God
To have faith in God is to recognize Him as worthy of our trust. He calls us out for our life screw-ups. Our first inclination is to deny or to shift the blame. But eventually we come to our senses and ask for his help. That's faith. How does anyone live without faith in a worthy God? Wonder if He's worthy? Do you need more proof than the cross of Jesus?
Autosuggestion can never deal honestly with your sins and shortcomings. It only denies them. But they'll loom quite large and real one day.
© 2011 Frank P. Crane