Jude was writing his letter to “those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ”.
People today have many different descriptions of what the church is:
– a place for worship
– a place where Christians get to hang out together and talk about God
– a bunch of narrow minded judgmental gay-haters who are out of touch with the real world
– a religious organization that wants to force everyone to conform
– a group of people that are trying to be like Jesus
– somewhere to go on Sunday mornings
– somewhere to go when you need help
The list could go on, because there are an insane number of perspectives on just what the church is (from both within and without). Jude’s description of the church is people who have been called, loved, and kept. In the interest of full disclosure, note that Jude’s purpose here wasn’t to define the church, he was simply describing the group to which he wrote.
It’s interesting that the church, to Jude, was distinguished by actions God was taking. It was God doing the calling, God who loved, and God who was keeping His people. He didn’t write to those who were current on paying dues, those who had good enough Sunday morning attendance, or those who had received the proper teaching and been properly baptized according to the proper formula. Not that those concepts/actions are worthless, but… ok, they basically are – if we’re doing them so God will approve of us and love us.
In a great moment of prayer, Isaiah (64:4,5) wrote (of Israel) that,
“Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.
You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them, You were angry.
How then can we be saved?
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;”
Every “righteous act” we do in order to make ourselves presentable to the Father, to wipe away our own uncleanness is like a leper trying to wipe away their sores with a “filthy rag”. A recent word study of the word Isaiah used that’s translated “filthy” just about makes me puke so I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say, our righteous acts don’t make things any better and they don’t earn us membership in some Jesus club. (We live and choose in response to God’s love, not as a precondition for earning it – but that’s another post.)
The church is still called, loved by the Father, and kept in His Son. I hope we always will hear His call, share His love, and rest in Him…