1 From Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James.
To all who are chosen and loved by God the Father and are kept safe by Jesus Christ.
2I pray that God will greatly bless you with mercy, peace, and love!
3My dear friends, I really wanted to write you about God's saving power at work in our lives. But instead, I must write and ask you to defend the faith that God has once for all given to his people. 4Some godless people have sneaked in among us and are saying, “God treats us much better than we deserve, and so it is all right to be immoral.” They even deny we must obey Jesus Christ as our only Master and Lord. But long ago the Scriptures warned that these godless people were doomed.
5 Don't forget what happened to those people the Lord rescued from Egypt. Some of them did not have faith, and he later destroyed them. 6You also know about the angels who didn't do their work and left their proper places. God chained them with everlasting chains and is now keeping them in dark pits until the great day of judgment. 7 We should also be warned by what happened to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the nearby towns. Their people became immoral and committed all sorts of sexual sins. Then God made an example of them and punished them with eternal fire.
How do we defend our faith in Jesus with people who seem smarter than us, more eloquent, or simply angry? Not that long ago I studied with some of the brightest minds at Oxford University. Truth be told, I sometimes felt pretty inadequate alongside their brilliant intellects. But the real stress-inducing times came in conversations with atheists about Jesus. There is something about passionate emotion coupled with a determined argument which can intimidate a person.
This is a bit of what Jude is tackling in his letter. He writes this heartfelt, faith-filled note to alert those deceived by “godless people” (v 4). He’s aware they are threatening the faith by rejecting the lordship and authority of Christ through a relaxed attitude about sexual decisions without any thought to their spiritual consequences. Jude is determined to wake up his readers so that they can effectively defend the faith (v 3). But how does he propose they do this? By brandishing swords? By doubling down in legalism? Or perhaps another way?
The answer lies at the start of the letter: a call to root our identity securely in the truth of God. He reminds us that in love God has taken the initiative with us and cares for us completely in Jesus Christ (v 1). He prays a short prayer, asking God abundantly to fill us with his kindness, peace, and love (v 2). These attributes will determine the way we defend our faith. The kindness of God is his active mercy or compassion to us which leads us to peace. The Greek word for peace, eirēne, corresponds to the Hebrew word shalom. Biblical peace is an inner sense of rest and wholeness, manifesting outwardly in our relationships. It is expressed by love, how we actively care for and relate to one another.
It’s then, from this foundational place, we can defend our faith.
Living God, root me in your kindness, peace, and love so that when I defend my faith today, I will do it in your power and wisdom and not by my own perceived cleverness or intellect. Help me to reflect you to others so that each person will come to know you as you really are.
Meg has a passion to see men and women mature in Christ through reconciled, healed relationships. Recently, she launched The Crossing Ministries, www.thecrossingministries.com to invite others to think about who they are, who God is, and how the relationships in their lives can be reconciled and healed. Before ordination to the priesthood, she had a unique career on Capitol Hill, concluding with Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie and RADM Dr. Barry Black in the US Senate Chaplain’s Office. She also worked collaboratively with Dr. Francis Collins, the former director of the National Institutes of Health, producing: Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith. Currently, she’s working on a new book called: The Risk of Ordinary Suffering: When We are Ready to Give up on God.