“Some people have made a mess of their faith because they didn’t listen to their consciences.” Most people really know better. They didn’t just wake up some morning and decide that being an alcoholic would be a good decision, or that spending more money than they possess would be just fine. They didn’t make a snap decision that God wasn’t there or doesn’t really care. Their consciences let them know well before they ended up in exorbitant debt or with a DUI that the daily choices being made were not wise. Faith is either built up or torn down; there is no neutral ground to it. And it doesn’t occur quickly. Faith either slowly erodes over time or it is consistently built by listening well to the conscience and following its counsel.
Listening to the conscience requires stopping long enough to hear it. The conscience is malleable; it can be seared into impotence through constant busyness which presses on with no heed to substantive thought. We don’t want to hear it. We have things to do, and have no time for this conscience thing. But in the end, if we ignore it, we will be ruined. Our faith will be a mess. Eventually, there will be no faith left to hold onto.
But if, like Martin Luther facing the crucial decision about whether to please people or God, our consciences are held captive to the Word of God, we will speak and act with integrity and truth. There will be peace, even if circumstances are difficult, because we have done the right thing. The real test of character is doing what you know you should do, even if it is hard, inconvenient, or not what you really want to do.
Faithful God, you stand at the nexus of my schizophrenic spirituality where I wander in and out of making wise and foolish decisions. Help me to listen well to the conscience you gave me. And let it be informed by your Holy Word in all things, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.