I recently read through the book of Jude and, let me tell you, I’m exhausted! I’m just glad I didn’t read it using the Amplified Bible or it may have taken two pages and who knows how long to read!
But seriously, Jude offers a simple letter with two themes:
1. Take a sad song
2. Make it better
Yes, you read that right. How could a music geek like me not make a reference to the Beatles when writing about the book of Jude?
But I digress.
Take a Sad Song
Jude’s main point in his letter to the believers around him was this: beware of false teachers. But not just in general. Jude asserts that false teachers and “some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives.” (1:4 NLT) Sound like anyone you know? Many people in our churches have some really messed up understandings of biblical theology. And, to make it worse, some churches and pastors even preach and teach this incorrect doctrine. Here’s how Jude describes these people:
When these people eat with you in your fellowship meals commemorating the Lord’s love, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you. They are like shameless shepherds who care only for themselves. They are like clouds blowing over the land without giving any rain. They are like trees in autumn that are doubly dead, for they bear no fruit and have been pulled up by the roots. They are like wild waves of the sea, churning up the foam of their shameful deeds. They are like wandering stars, doomed forever to blackest darkness…These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want.
It’s a sad song, indeed. We have strayed away from the Gospel and all that it contains about the sacrifices that were made by the early Christians so that they could live according to the example of Christ. Being a Christ follower isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t footloose and fancy free!
Make It Better
So, how do we take this sad song and make it better? Jude tells us in the second half of his letter.
1. Build each other up.
But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
We are tasked with the responsibility to pray for each other and to keep each other safe. We must live in community with one another, and be aware of correct doctrine, so that we are able to warn each other and correct each other when the time comes. How can we do this? Join a small group, go to a bible study, spend time in the word, spend time in prayer. First and foremost, though, is find a church that embraces these things and sets the example for living in Christian community. This is the model of the first church.
2. Show Mercy
You must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.
Mercy. Even to those who have “wormed their way” into your churches, and only intend to satisfy their own desires and agendas. Even those who live by false doctrine and rediculous theology. Show mercy to those people, and, most importantly, help them realize the error in their ways. However, do so lovingly, but also cautiously. I read Jude’s advice as being a warning against getting wrapped up in the same things yourself. If we start publicly criticizing everyone who doesn’t believe our “correct doctrine,” aren’t we making ourselves out to be just as bad as they are? Bottom line: hate the sin, but love the sinner.
Hey Jude! Don’t make it bad! Take a sad song, and make it better!
Naaaa naa naa nanana naaaaa, nanana naaaaa, hey Jude!