The Book of Jude is quite a book for Thanksgiving Day. I always have the picture of “gloom” in my mind when I think about this book. I think gloomy thoughts because this letter explains the nature and destiny of those who deny Christ and teach others to do the same.
Jude has a lot of material that needs fleshing out – fallen angels, the archangel Michael, the body of Moses, Balaam’s error, Korah’s rebellion, and Enoch’s prophesy. I hope you take some time to do that today.
Of course, don’t let yourself get too buried in research. There is interesting material here, but a simple reading of this text drives home a main point that any reader can understand.
There are deceivers in the global church.
When I read the text this time, I was struck by the fact Jude had wanted to write about something different. He had wanted to write about “our common salvation.”
I wonder what kind of letter would have been. Certainly, it would have been a joyful letter. It would have built unity among the churches and the Christians who read it. I’m sure it would have stirred up a lot of gratitude in their hearts – saved by grace!
But Jude didn’t write that letter. Instead, he found it more pressing to write a warning to the churches to be alert and to “contend” for the faith in the face of false teachers who had slipped in among them, hiding out during their love feasts, acting like shepherds.
This is a warning. And it is necessary. We can see the havoc false teachers, bound up in the same “ungodly passions,” are stirring up in the church today.
Good parents warn their children. It’s part of the job. And the warning isn’t for the sake of the wolves. It’s for the sake of the sheep.
My daughter Anna and I were bagging up leaves at my mother-in-law’s house. And I noticed as I was raking up a pile that there was more than just leaves in that pile. This was a backyard for a dog, and dog “debris” could be found there. I hope you understand what I mean.
And so I raked and raked, and when Anna came over with a bag to begin pushing those leaves into it, I warned her. I told her what I saw.
“I know,” she said, and she kept working.
She was aware of the mess. She knew it was there, and she simply kept working. We kept working together, actually. This was a family moment.
I kind of picture that with Jude. His letter marked a family moment. The family mission is to spread the gospel and to build up one another in the faith – to strengthen the church.
But there is danger present. There’s always going to be danger associated with the work of the church.
Jude wanted everyone to be clear-eyed about the danger. Not to be alarmed. But to be well-prepared. And then to keep doing the work.
“And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”
Keep working. Keep living out the gospel message. Don’t over-think things. Don’t worry. Recognize not everything is going to be easy, and opponents to the gospel might even exist within the church. But keep working.
“I know,” we might say. And we keep working.