Have you ever heard someone say, “Think positive and positive things will happen”? Or maybe it was put like this, “If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
What Does Oprah Say?
A few years ago, when Larry King interviewed Oprah on how positive thinking was the reason behind her success, she said this: “It’s very true that the way you think creates reality for yourself…you really can change your own reality based on the way you think.”
Did God really say that? Does positive thinking actually work?
Let’s think through this for a moment. If it’s true that you can change your life and attract whatever it is that you’re thinking—then that means the flip side of this statement, “Think positive and positive things will happen,” is true as well. In other words, if anything negative happens to you, it’s your fault because you drew that negative “energy” to yourself.
So that massive tsunami in 2004 that killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries? According to the author of The Secret, who popularized this sort of thinking, that natural disaster could’ve been prevented if the victims of the tsunami just thought more positively. The same is true if you have a heart attack—the only reason you got one was because you just weren’t thinking positive enough. Cancer, death, rape, and COVID-19, too—it was basically your negative thoughts that brought all of this upon yourself.
Preposterous! Like the devil did in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, and like he did in the desert with Jesus, he has created these diabolical concoctions of half-truths that seem sweet and harmless on the surface but are actually poisonous once ingested. Believe it or not, proponents of this sort of thinking actually twist the Bible to try and back this garbage up. They quote verses like Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, everything you pray and ask for— believe that you have received it and it will be yours,” and make it sound like the universe is your catalogue. “Just flip through it, think it, and claim it, and then receive.”
It’s as simple as that, right?
God never said, “Think positive and positive things will happen.” Mark 11:24 is not about thinking positive thoughts to get whatever it is that you want. Using this verse in this manner is like saying Hitler is a Christian leader, since he said, “God the Almighty has made our nation. By defending its existence, we are defending his work.” This is completely out of context of his character and being!
What Does God Say?
When you dig into the context surrounding Mark 11:24, we actually discover the antidote to this lie, “Think positive and positive things will happen.” Let’s take a look at verses 22-24:
Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, everything you pray and ask for—believe that you have received it and it will be yours.
Why do you think Jesus tells his disciples specifically to “have faith in God”? Do you think it’s because he’s contrasting faith in ourselves with faith in God? Faith in positive human thinking versus faith in God’s ability to do above and beyond all that we can ask or imagine? When you think about it, doesn’t this question serve as a massive dividing line in our world?
Friends, we are not God, nor are we “little gods.” If we were, then what need would we have for God? If we were “little gods,” then everything that we want would be within our grasp since we could make it happen ourselves. All we’d have to do is just think it, name it, and claim it. Whatever we want: Health, wealth, and prosperity—it would all be within our grasp—since as little gods, we should never be sick or poor, right?!
Jesus is saying here to have faith—not in yourself, nor in your ability to positively think away doubt from your heart—but in God, the God who can move mountains and for whom nothing is impossible. In the God who created you, is sustaining you, is sovereign over all. In the great, I AM who says, “Done,” rather than “Do.” In the God who is faithful and trustworthy, even when others break promises and your trust. And in the God who accomplishes everything.
Jesus is saying here to have faith—not in yourself, nor in your ability to positively think away doubt from your heart—but in God, the God who can move mountains and for whom nothing is impossible.
So no, God never said, “Think positive and positive things will happen.”
He said, “Have faith in me.”