8The people I am talking about are behaving just like those dreamers who destroyed their own bodies. They reject all authority and insult angels. 9 Even Michael, the chief angel, didn't dare to insult the devil, when the two of them were arguing about the body of Moses. All Michael said was, “The Lord will punish you!”
10But these people insult powers they don't know anything about. They are like senseless animals that end up getting destroyed, because they live only by their feelings. 11 Now they are in for real trouble. They have followed Cain's example and have made the same mistake that Balaam did by caring only for money. They have also rebelled against God, just as Korah did. Because of all this, they will be destroyed.
12These people are filthy minded, and by their shameful and selfish actions they spoil the meals you eat together. They are like clouds blown along by the wind, but never bringing any rain. They are like leafless trees, uprooted and dead, and unable to produce fruit. 13Their shameful deeds show up like foam on wild ocean waves. They are like wandering stars forever doomed to the darkest pits of hell.
14 Enoch was the seventh person after Adam, and he was talking about these people when he said:
Look! The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of holy angels 15to judge everyone. He will punish all those ungodly people for all the evil things they have done. The Lord will surely punish those ungodly sinners for every evil thing they have ever said about him.
16These people grumble and complain and live by their own selfish desires. They brag about themselves and flatter others to get what they want.
When people are acting destructively, it is sometimes imperative we acknowledge their behavior by calling a spade a spade. However, we live in an ever-increasing contentious, politically correct culture which vacillates between feeling nervous about offending someone to out-and-out name calling. Using neither of these tactics, Jude demonstrates that every once in a while it is vital we call people out who act destructively.
And as with Jude’s audience, which is sometimes true in our own, the people who are tearing down the Christian faith are not outside the body of Christ, but from within it.
To some degree, this part of Jude’s letter is hard to read because of its confrontational tone. However, we can learn something for our modern cultural context from the way he communicates. As a follower of Jesus, Jude models two of Jesus’ cardinal messages: the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), which teaches us how to treat one another; and Jesus’ declaration to his disciples who are about to go out as lambs among wolves – where he teaches us how to consider circumstances and then act (Matthew 10:16). Jesus understands how complex we are as humans both for good and evil. He knows that many of us, when we are confronted with the “wolves” of our lives, may try to control or demonize them with the aim of ruining them through power and abuse, religious or otherwise.
Jude applies the teachings of Jesus in his letter by candidly describing the destructive behavior of people within the body of Christ. For us, as we critically pay attention to people and their beliefs, whether inside the church or out, let’s follow Jesus’ instruction, matched by Jude’s example to first think as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves and then to treat other people the way we want to be treated.
I’m filled with conviction today, Lord, as I realize how quickly I criticize others and call them names, especially for those who seem to oppose me. Forgive me. Lord, help me to love my enemies by praying for them, and may I listen when you prompt me boldly to call out their destructive behavior.