What does it mean to believe? David, who had trusted in God as his shepherd through his whole life, brought destruction on himself and his family because he allowed his lust to overcome his faith. Instead of staying true to his convictions, he became secretive, manipulative and murderous, and the impact of his actions reverberated through the rest of his life. This week the Lectionary tells the story of how God confronts David with what he has done, and forgives him. But notice, also, that God does not remove the consequences of David’s actions. Sometimes the only way to find our way back to a life of integrity and wholeness is through experiencing the pain of what we have done.

In John’s Gospel the people, who had witnessed the feeding of the crowd, track Jesus down and ask him what they must do to accomplish God’s will. Jesus’ answer is that they must believe, but they ask him for a miracle. It seems they had already forgotten the food he had provided for them and they had completely missed Jesus’ exhortation to go beyond seeking food to seek God’s Reign! The people point to Moses’ manna as an example of God’s miracles (again, seemingly not making any connection with the food they had already received), but Jesus points them to himself as the Bread of Life.

So, what does it mean to believe? It doesn’t have much to do with what goes on in our heads. It’s about sharing in the life of Christ (eating the Bread of Life is Jesus’ metaphor) so that our lives embody the grace, compassion, justice and peace of God’s Reign. We can say what we like, but it is the fruit of our lives that demonstrates what we really believe. In the end, both David’s faith and that of the crowds were insufficient to free them from their own self-interest. May this week’s meditations lead us to a faith that is more than that – that empowers us to live with the self-giving love of Christ.

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