Jude warns the church that “certain individuals” ultimately are causing some major problems within the body of Christ’s followers. In my mind, this was always tied to the idea of some people being “false teachers”. A lot of preachers use this idea to justify never letting anyone else speak from “their pulpit” – lest they inadvertently allow false teaching to take place. In the book of 2 Peter, which is closely tied with Jude, that phrase is used – but it is absent in Jude’s writing. Certainly, leadership in the church is responsible for teaching the truth, but there is more that makes these individuals who’ve “secretly slipped in among” us so dangerous than what they may say or not say in a relationship of authority.
Just listened to my dad’s sermon from Sunday at WhiteWater – sort of ‘guest-speaking’ I guess about things that get in the way of moving closer to God. He labeled those things ‘rocks’. I think one of the most pervasive ‘rocks’ that we carry around is a lack of prayer (which indicates a lack of an attitude of dependence on God). Prayer was the focus of the service here that our students and I led. We included a lot of stuff that was ‘out of the ordinary’ for a typical Sunday morning.
“… 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 the Lord has once for all entrusted to us…” – Jude
Jude was writing his letter to “those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ”.
Reading through Jude, the first thing that strikes me is the humility with which he wrote. He didn’t introduce himself as some high and mighty authority that the readers of his letter were supposed to listen to – but as a “servant of Jesus and a brother of James”.
Often, we can tend to think in terms of credentials and qualifications. If we’re looking for a job, we’ll polish up our resume – listing out the experiences we’ve had that we think qualify us for the job. If we have a message we want the church to heed, we may feel tempted to preface it with a list of our accomplishments or successes in ministry. In short, we may be tempted to puff up ourselves before we deliver the message.
The problem with that is, it ignores the fact that we’re only messengers – or at least that’s what we should be. If the message is only mine, it’s going to come up short of what the Body really needs. One of our seniors will be preaching in a couple weeks and I want him to be aware of that fact. He needs (and I need) to simply say what God wants him to say. His job is not to craft the greatest sermon ever heard (by the half of the congregation that will still be in town). It’s to search the heart and mind of God for His message to His people – and deliver it as His servant.
Jesus had a brother named Jude. And another named James. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that it was probably this same Jude, Jesus’ own brother, who wrote this letter. We know His brothers didn’t believe in Him until after His death and resurrection, but that they did come to belief. But Jude doesn’t write on the authority that “Jesus is my brother, so you better listen up.” He had something on his mind that he wanted to share with the people. And he did it as a servant.
Whatever ministry you and I may be sent into, may we go there as humble servants.
I’ve been really digging into the book of Jude for the past several days. That may seem a little wierd since Jude takes about two minutes to read, but I’m finding a lot there to think about. Basically, Jude (who likely was Jesus’ brother) writes a note of warning to the church, urging them to “contend for the faith” and be wary of ungodly influences that were sneaking in. He warns the church that those who have previously been considered “God’s People” had not escaped punishment when the turned from God’s ways. The implication is that if the church allows anyone to slip in and lure her away from Jesus, the church ceases to be God’s and places herself in great danger.