I wish I had a million dollars; I wish I were snorkeling in the Caribbean; I wish the Sunnis and Shiites would quit blowing each other up. That is, I can form a positive mental image of the object of my wish. When I conceive of it happening, I have good feelings about it.
I desire to learn to speak Spanish. I desire to run a sub-20 minute 5k. I desire to organize my office. That is, beyond forming a positive mental image about these things, every once in a while I engage in a flurry of activity that has something to do with achieving these goals. I consistently want to do them, and have resolved (several times, in fact) to make these things happen, but none of them are currently achieved (nor, if I'm being brutally honest, do I expect them to happen any time soon).
I intend to write a book. I intend to go camping at Cornerstone again this year. I intend to pay off the van loan by the end of the summer. That is, beyond wishing for these things, and beyond desiring them and resolving to accomplish them, I am currently engaged in practices which have reliably shown to lead to the intended goal. I am committed to seeing them happen and have prioritized accordingly.
Wishing, desiring, intending... If we asked Christians where on that scale would the goal of "Becoming more like Christ" fall, I fear that for most of us it is somewhere between wishing and desiring.
Equally we might ask about "Becoming spiritually mature" or (to use Willard's blunt example) "stopping sinning", or to link an earlier post, "learning to obey all that Jesus has commanded". What does this tell us about the depth of Christianity as practiced in 21st century America?