Obsessions can become a bad thing while in a totally different way a constant vigilance can be a good thing. Vigilance is keeping a constant awareness for any difficulties that might lie ahead and in our Christian world today there are many. Recent events have taken me to the Book of Jude again and some new thoughts. We all wonder at times what this Christian life expects of us, Jude tells us in the first two verses, what it means to be a Christian.
-Christians are those who are called by God.
-Christians are those who are beloved in God.
-Christians are those who are kept by Christ.
We are summoned to a duty and responsibility. We are called by God and loved by God. As Christians we are never alone. Christ is always watching over us and most anywhere we go there will be other Christians willing to shelter and comfort us. We are privileged to be called even though the challenges will be many. I as well as many others have spoken to or written about defending the faith and the third and forth verses of Jude speak to just that.In the third verse we read what prompted this letter.
Beloved, when I was in the midst of devoting all my energy to writing to you about the faith which we all share, I felt that I was compelled to write a letter to you to urge you to engage upon the struggle to defend the faith which was once and for all delivered to God’s consecrated people.
Jude has received news that there are some misguided people spreading destructive teachings. Jude knew his duty and he rushed to defend the faith. Ever had a Jude moment? Sometimes dealing with the moment instead of focusing on the future is necessary for the defense of the faith. I believe sometimes we forget that there were others who came before us. This faith we are defending has been delivered to us and is a tradition in an unbroken chain going back to Jesus Christ himself. The links of this chain are made and strengthened by the men and women who have experienced the truth and wonder of these facts. We did not discover these facts on our own, they were delivered to us and are unchanging. This tradition was brought to us in a very personal way, passed on from person to person through the generations. It is unchangeable in the sense that at the very center lies the permanence that is Jesus Christ, who brings salvation to all. This Christian faith is given to those who are called and it is strongest within the Church, not resting in the hands of just one person. We, each generation must pass it down intact and undistorted. This will not be easy but each generation must struggle to defend the faith. Jude sees the threat emanating from “The Peril From Within”. (William Barclay pg 204 DBS Jude)
For certain men have wormed their way into the Church – long before this, they were designated for judgment – impious creatures they are – who twist the grace of God into a justification of blatant immorality and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jude wrote this letter to warn that the threat comes from within the Church. There are those who have come into the Church and these despicable people are distorting the grace of God as a means to justify their wickedness. There is much to consider in this small book and there is no way a simple blog can do it justice. Jude writes of bad examples of past transgressions, people who live by the their instincts, without reason and even less knowledge. He is relentless in his attacks, he turns to history, encouraging the Church to remember that the wickedness of others has never ended well. He does his best to paint a picture of these wicked people and questions their character. Jude is blunt and in his words of moral indignation there is even a hint of repressed anger. So much is here in this book but one point I would make, these people have allowed the sins of the flesh to guide their actions and seek to distort the word of God so that they might justify those actions.
How important is defending the faith? There is a goodness in Christians that keep the faith. It is a faith that was passed on from Christ on the cross, his resurrection, from the Apostles to the Church and of course from the Church to us. Generation to generation without change and defended by the Church through the people of the Church. The world is a much better place because of the faith. We must practice a holy faith. The root meaning of the word holy is different. We are called to be different just as our faith is different. Ours is not a faith of opinions, a set of rules, no way! Our faith has the power to change people and situations.…..Our faith is God-given guided by the Holy Spirit.
One last thing about this faith thing. Faith must be defended because it is by faith we are called to reclaim the lost and there are things we must do to meet this calling.
we must pray and seek the Holy Spirit to guide us in our calling.
we must study and be able to give a reason for our faith, leaving no doubt as to its strength by how we live this life.
we must share that faith not only by how we live but verbally, we must tell the story.
Free will, we have all heard that. Sometimes it may become necessary to act forcibly.
we must never allow ourselves to be drawn into the sins of others.
we must be sure that our faith is strong before we try to lift the weak up out of their despair.
We defend what we know to be true because of the certainty of the promises of Jesus Christ and the resurrection and the life to come. I will close with this. In 1964 Barry Goldwater said this,“Extremism in the defense of freedom is no vice.” Some say it cost him the election for President of The United States. I would hope that as I write this I would not offend you, but “Extremism in the defense of the Faith is no vice.”
Keep The Faith, Life is Good
Blog References: *The New Interpreters Bible, William Barclay DBS