Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.
…..But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. (Jude)
Jude wanted to write about all the amazingness of being rescued by Jesus … instead the Lord compelled him to write about enemy infiltrators in their midst and God’s judgment and the absolute MUST for them to contend – fight hard- for the faith. Ugh… quite a change in writing objectives. Not the ‘warm fuzzies’ he was hoping for.
He warns about those that have “slipped in among you,” about perverts and rebels and self-seeking slanderers. He warns about “grumblers and faultfinders” and those that “boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.” He warns about those who have the power to divide – following mere instincts – but do not have the Spirit.
Strong warnings. Hard truths.
… And yet, how does he call us to combat these infiltrators? With fire and brimstone and holy righteousness?
He tells us to keep ourselves in God’s love by build ourselves up in faith and praying in the Spirit. He tells us to be merciful to those that doubt, that we have the power to snatch those that are heading toward fire. He tells that in reverent fear we can show mercy even as we hate the ugliness of all things ungodly.
We must show mercy.. even as “in God’s love” we wait for the mercy ourselves.
Evil is scary. It’s the “boo” waiting behind the closet door. It can be the land mine hidden that you never saw coming. It is dark, ugly, in your face, or deceptively white-washed in all the trappings of too-sickeningly-sweet.
Even just the thought of evil can bring debilitating fear if considered too long.
But what I love about this letter from Jude is how he sandwiches all this hard, scary, necessary stuff in the warm bun of who we are in Christ and who He is in us:
To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept forJesus Christ:Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Lord, sandwiched in the truth of your mercy, peace and love – all fear, all purposes, all things are possible … even facing fear with love and mercy.
Watering Today: Prov 2, Ps 2, 102, 72; Isaiah 4-5; Jude