Jack, I don’t understand this concept. If I’m falling off a cliff and grab for a tree branch on the way down, doesn’t the strength of the branch matter infinitely more than how much I believe/hope/think the branch will support me?
Paul of Tarsus, who had massive faith in Jesus to the point of devoting his life to evangelism, wrote, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” In other words, if this Branch ends up not holding me — if my beloved Jesus is not standing there to receive me when I die — then all of this faith is worth nothing and I have trashed my life (and afterlife) like a fool. I have been deceived; I have gambled big and lost.
As for me, I believe in the God who is real to me not just when I “activate” Him with my faith, but more importantly, when I have forgotten Him, when I am ignoring Him, precisely when I am faithless. Perhaps that is the single most defining belief of Christianity: a God who moves toward us, rather than waiting for us to move toward Him; a God who is faithful to the faithless.
(Forgive me for not having read the earlier two articles in your series yet, in case you’ve already addressed this in more depth elsewhere.)