You complain that you cannot believe? No one should be surprised that they cannot come to believe so long as, in deliberate disobedience, they flee or reject some aspect of Jesus' commandment.
You do not want to subject some sinful passion, an enmity, a hope, your life plan, or your reason to Jesus' commandment? Do not be surprised that you do not receive the Holy Spirit, that you cannot pray, that your prayer for faith remains empty! Instead, go and be reconciled with your sister or brother; let go of the sin which keeps you captive; and you will be able to believe again! If you reject God's commanding word, you will not receive God's gracious word. How would you expect to find community while you intentionally withdraw from it at some point? The disobedient cannot believe; only the obedient believe.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say that you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. James 2:14-17
Questions to Ponder
Jesus' commandment is that we love God who made us and that we love our neighbors as ourselves. How does obedience to this commandment nurture and nourish true faith?
Why does rejecting "God's commanding word" keep us from receiving "God's gracious word"?
What is it about rejecting God's commanding word that takes us out of community?
Then they despised the pleasant land,
having no faith in his promise.
They grumbled in their tents,
and did not obey the voice of the Lord. Psalm 106:24-25
Write in your journal about a practical experience of how your obedience to Jesus' commandment has nurtured and nourished your faith.
Write about your experiences of Christian community. Reflect on both good and bad experiences. What is the difference between them?
Pray for your family and spiritual friends (and for all Christians) that they would continuously experience community grounded in love.
Prayer for Today
Lord, help me to see where I am rejecting some aspect of your will for me. Help me to obey and believe, believe and obey.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.