Monday, December 21, 2009

Postcard from Judah

The short epistle, Jude, like its neighbors, 2 eye'd and 3 eye'd John, are called postcard epistles (obviously) because they are short and to the point. Jude was written by Judah (a common name those days) who declares himself to be the brother of James. Scholars believe these two men were step-brothers of Christ.
The introduction is very short and after saying what it was he had intended to write about ("our common salvation" vs. 3a), Jude doesn't make it out of that verse without changing the subject by declaring intent of "...exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (vs. 3b)
With that as background let's move on to his chief concern; contending for the faith.
There is no peace, neither will there be peace; not in the world and especially not in the church. Satan is intent on destroying the faith that was once delivered to the saints, and he began his work as Jesus ascended to heaven.
The early church was plagued with one controversy after another; heresy upon heresy. Jude says that "...certain men have crept in(to the church) unnoticed, that they are ungodly and are turning the grace of God into lewdness while denying the Lord Jesus Christ (vs. 4).
Online dictionary definitions of lewd(ness) includes " lust, low, ignorant, common, vulgar, base, vile, wicked, bad, worthless...
All this they brought into the church...unnoticed. They went unnoticed because they were correct in attire, vocabular, demeanor, and they knew all the right words; like, Happy Sabbath, Ellen White, prayer meeting, etc., and most probably some of them were elected to church office because the church was more interested a peaceful church than one in contention.
I'll happily agree that peace is preferable to contending, but avoiding contentious issues for the sake of peace is to surrender the truth to Satan. Do we want to do that.
Is the Essayist saying that we should be looking for a fight and be eager to contend? No; of course not, so that can be put out with the garbage. What I am saying is that the church and every righteous person in the church should not run from a fight just because even the thoughts of discord gives them dispepsia.
Just across the page from Judah I see that John is talking about ..."Diotrephes, who loves to have the preminence among them.." in the church but does not receive John and his companions.
The question comes to this: which is more important; a peaceable church or a pure church? Some will ask, "can't there be both?" "can't we have peace and purity?" I answer, "No! Not this side of heaven and not as long as there is a devil and not as long as unconverted, unChristian men and women choose to join the church.
There are those today who prefer a good looking and right acting church (orthopraxy) over a righteous church that teaches....and LIVES...the truth (orthodoxy). Orthopraxy will most probably result in there being more people, bigger offerings, more programs, etc., all of which would make it seem that the two ortho's were living together.
Today's megachurches are filled with thousands of people and we mourn at the (sometimes) paucity of people in our pews. But consider this; the demands of Christ are not popular because they cut across the paths of our natural (and sinful) inclinations. Had Christ made it easy to be a Christian; no self denial, no cross-bearing, no sacrifice, walk the wide highway, etc., etc., there would be a hundred where now there is one.
So what does the Lord want us to do and to be? Shall we contend or concede? Do not confuse contending with mean spirited argument. Remember the balance: Jesus, John, Jude.
God bless. e.c.

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