The focusing illusion is psychological phenomenon that comes from the world of surveys and statistics. Put simply, the order of the questions that you ask shapes the answers. For instance, a group of college students were asked two questions, in this order: How happy are you? How often did you go on dates. There was no observable correlation between the frequency of dating and the degree of happiness reported. However, when they asked the questions in the reverse order, making the students first focus on how often they were going on dates, there was a higher correlation between the answer to the two questions. The order of the questions changed the answers (Batterson, Primal).
We Christians in America tend to ask two questions. We ask first what we want to accomplish with our lives: our work, our family, our homes, our playtime. Then we ask what Jesus’ death on the cross means to us: salvation, heaven, forgiveness. But I wonder how much our answer to the second question would change if we asked it first, if it weren’t already so anchored in our life plans that it were free to make its own, independent demands on our lives.