20But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
22Be merciful to those who doubt; 23snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh." Jude 1:17-23
I love to read the book of Jude. It's such a tiny book of the Bible- and yet it speaks volumes. I love how Jude gives us glimpses of things seen no where else in the Bible. He speaks of the archangel Michael, fighting with the devil for the body of Moses. He speaks of wise sayings of Enoch- who we know didn't physically die, but simply went to be with the Lord. And he urges us all to contend for our faith- to not let it fall into the hands of the wicked. As I read Jude this morning, I just felt that maybe many people don't read the book of Jude- because the very thing that we read about being wary of is the very thing that is happening to many churches today.
What happens is that someone joins a church, and all is well. Everyone is always happy to receive a new member. And then as time goes on, this new member gets more and more involved, and then tries to instigate change within the church- and change that's not necessarily for the better. Discussions ensue about how to make church more friendly to people outside of the church- how can we make it less about God and more about self... this is a very dangerous slippery slope that so many churches are on right now.
There are entire denominations of "church" out there where God isn't even mentioned- doesn't even have a place in the weekly service. Service is all about feeling good about yourself and trying to be a "good person". Church and life is all about one thing: God. Plain and simple, life is about worshiping God and loving His son Jesus who died for all mankind. Life is about becoming more and more like Jesus- that should be our focus. When we focus on God and on Jesus, everything else comes along with it. Imagine that! All that self-help we seek out, all that trying to be a better person will just naturally fall into place as we focus more and more on things of the Spirit and trusting in God above to take care of our every need.
When we don't know what to do, verse 20 tells us exactly what to do...
"But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit."
Have faith in God and pray in the Spirit. So many times, I feel like I need to pray for someone or something, but I'm at a point in my walk where I really want to pray the right thing... I don't want to speak words that are contradictory to God's Will, and I don't want to petition God for the wrong things, so many times, I will simply think on the issue at hand, and then I will say something simply, like "may God's will be done completely" and then I will spend time praying in the Spirit. That's a surefire way to ensure that you are praying for the situation that needs your attention. It may seem like cheating sometimes, but boy, is it an effective way to pray.
Jude also tells us to keep ourselves in God's love. How do we do that? By following His commandments to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. And we need to be merciful to those who doubt.
"Be merciful to those who doubt;" (v. 22)
We live in a world that tells us that faith in God is optional, and I think it's natural for people to doubt that God's love can really be enough for them. Rather than show these people disdain, we can have mercy. We can love them where they are at and gently encourage them through the use of testimonies of God's love and how He's worked in our own lives. With God's help, those who doubt will have their eyes opened.
I'll close today with the very end of the book of Jude. He gives us such encouragement with his closing words, and I pray that it encourages you as well this morning.
"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." Jude 1:24-25