This blog is supposed to be, as much as I can, my daily journey through life as a Christian. I hope it to be my thoughts and feelings on life but be as grounded in the Christian message as it can. My intention is not to create a daily readings or bible study guide but to look at my life in terms of a Christian trying to find and follow God's mission using his Life User's Manuel AKA the Bible.

Matthew 10 19-20

And don't you worry about what you'll say or how you'll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words. - Matthew 10 19-20

Monday, November 01, 2010

Warnings from little brother

It's that time again! Yes it's time for the latest linked Bible post brought to you by Sam and Caron. Please follow the link and check out Caron's blog and read her thoughts on today's topic too. Also please check out the previous linked blog posts from both me and Caron here.

This linked post was chosen by me, so if it turns out terrible, you don't like it or disagree you now know who to blame. So for this post I decided that I would quite like to have a closer look at Jude, use it as an exercise to really get to grips with this short yet powerful book. Check here to read it online.

I love the beginning of this book, it is such a wonderful way to start a letter to anyone;

Jude 1:2   
    Relax, everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way! 

Now as an opening to a letter this has to rank amongst the best. Jude is pretty much saying, "hey guys, chill, it's all going great, it's all going to be great. Oh, and Jesus is on His way!" I don't know exactly who it was written to but it appears to be an open letter to all believers of the Church. Whoever it was sent to though this is an awesome opening.

But hold on a second, lets skip back to the first verse. Here we read that this letter is from Jude who is a servant of Christ and brother to James. The use of servant here is used in other parts of the New Tetament and suggests that the author was an Apostle of Christ. Not only that but it is very possible that this man was one of Jesus brothers. Jude and Judas are both different Anglicised versions of the same Jewish name, and if we look at Matthew 15:55;

Matthew 13:55  
    But in the next breath they were cutting him down: "We've known him since he was a kid; he's the carpenter's son. We know his mother, Mary. We know his brothers James and Joseph, Simon and Judas

If this is the case then we are dealing with someone who knew Christ exceptionally well, someone who would have heard His teachings often and spent a lot of time with our Saviour. Jude, James and the family of Jesus would have know Him and His teachings and would, in my opinion, be worth listening too.

So we know who is writing this letter, that he has a deep faith and the peace that comes with it, that he wants to share this faith and peace with all followers. But what is it he actually wants to say to us, what is the point of this letter?

This letter is a stark and clear warning, it pulls no punches. After a short and warm introduction it dives straight into the point of the letter. 

Jude 1:3  
    Dear friends, I've dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting-begging!-that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. 

We see here that the author feels so strongly about the point of this letter that he has dropped everything. Not only that but he has been driven to insist, nay beg the readers to not just fight, but fight with all they have for their shared faith. I don't know about anyone else but as I read this passage, Jude, I get a sense of great love, love like that of an elder sibling who is desperately trying to help his younger siblings see the truth. The relationship I have with my older brother is not always great but there is one thing I know. I can always rely on, the fact he will always look out for me and my well being, that he will always give me straight, honest and good advice. That is the sense I get from this letter, it is someone older and more mature in the faith pleading with his younger faith siblings to see the truth and follow the right path.

The warning in this letter is about people. Not just any people but those who want to use the Church and the faith for their own gain. Jude is desperately trying to warn us against them. People who will look all holy and pious on the outside but are actually just using the Church for their own advancement and earthly betterment. Most of this letter is a series of references to similar cases in the past as recorded in the Bible. This is as much for the warnings and reminders of what happened in these stories as much as it is to illustrate the problem. Know your past else you will be doomed to repeat it.

Jude 1:14-19   
    Enoch, the seventh after Adam, prophesied of them: "Look! The Master comes with thousands of holy angels to bring judgment against them all, convicting each person of every defiling act of shameless sacrilege, of every dirty word they have spewed of their pious filth." These are the "grumpers," the bellyachers, grabbing for the biggest piece of the pie, talking big, saying anything they think will get them ahead. 
    But remember, dear friends, that the apostles of our Master, Jesus Christ, told us this would happen: "In the last days there will be people who don't take these things seriously anymore. They'll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts." These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves. There's nothing to them, no sign of the Spirit!
This problem was foreseen and forewarned by a number of people, people including Christ! It is a tactic well used by the enemy, to infiltrate and subvert. The enemy is not above using any technique to serve his purpose and complete his self ordained mission against God. He will use anyone and everything he can to try and defeat us and to turn us against our Lord and Saviour. And because of that these warnings from Jude, echoed in 2nd Peter and also in I, II and III John, need to be heeded. If this threat was not so great why would there be so many warnings for us.

However this letter is not just a warning, it does provide us with advice on how to avoid falling into this trap, about how to prevent this from happening in our Church.

Jude 1:20-21 
    But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God's love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life! 

If we have accepted Christ and have the Holy Spirit within us we will be protected, if we pray always and keep ourselves within God's love then we will be kept safe. But not only that if we fail there is the knowledge that if we go to Christ we can receive mercy and be given the true life in Christ, unending life. There will be many battles, we may lose a few. But if we are firm in Christ we can sure win the war.

The next two verses are possibly my current favourite verses in the whole Bible, it is something that through experience I know to be true and something I am trying hard to work into my life. 

Jude 1:22-23   
    Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven. 

The job I do brings me into close contact with many people who have sinned, some of them in the most horrendous ways. It is a daily struggle for me to act in a Christian way towards these people when I know the extent and form of these sins. But right here it gives us directions to follow, be tough on sin because the sin stinks in the most offensive way. God hates sin, he hates everything about it, but he loves us and wants us to be free of that sin. He asks that we as followers help those who have not yet found His love through Christ. We should be tender with the sinner themselves, we should try and nurture whatever good is in them and show them through our actions the life they can have through Christ if they but accept His love and follow Him. We have to remember Jesus Himself did not spend His time with those who were right with God. He went right to the people who were the worst, the least, the people society wanted nothing to do with. As followers of Christ we should be following this example and going to these outcasts and bringing them into Jesus' fold. We should be working with those the world wants nothing to do with, go love the unlovable as Christ would.

And at last that brings us to the end of the letter, Jude's doxology, his hymn of praise to our Father. It is a fantastic end that is befitting a letter with such a wonderful beginning. In my opinion it is up there amongst some of the greatest words written and I can think of no better way to finish this post. If it was good enough for Jude's letter then it is more than good enough for Sam's blog. I hope you enjoyed reading this post please leave any comments below and also check out the corresponding blog written by my friend here.

Jude 1:24-25 (KJV)  
    Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen

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