During these tumultuous times in Minnesota, America and around the world, so many are taking sides on certain issues. There are major rights people are fighting for and seeking to make a statement about.
Do you think God has invited us to any battles? Has God invited us to make a stand? If so, what for and how?
One of Jesus' younger brothers, Jude, was so excited to write a letter to the church about the greatest gift God has given the world, salvation through Jesus Christ. But, the Holy Spirit prevented him from writing that letter. The Holy Spirit inspired him to invite followers of Christ to the most important battle. Let's read what the Holy Spirit revealed for him to write about.
"Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." Jude 3-4
The battle that we need to be focused on is to "contend for the faith." What does that mean?
The "Faith" Jude is referring to is the entire point of Christianity. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only atoning sacrifice for our sins. That Jesus is the only One who can make us right with God and adopt us into His family. The Faith is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The "faith" also includes the Bible from Genesis to Revelation; God's Revelation about Jesus and how He is the only One who is the Messiah. So, the "Faith" is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Bible which reveals this to the world.
Jude explains that there are certain people who have infiltrated the church and trying to change the faith. They were trying to change how to get right with God. They were seeking to follow Cain's lead. Cain brought a fruit and vegetable offering instead of a blood sacrifice offering in order to get right with God. God revealed that sin is so serious and He is so holy and pure that any imperfection can not exist in God's presence. A great fruit and vegetable buffet does not accomplish the miracle work of God removing the death of sin from us and ushering His perfection into us.
Jude more than invites us, followers of Christ, to join this battle. He "urges" us; implores, exhorts, beseeches, admonishes us to contend for the Gospel of Jesus. He is enlisting us into this battle.
How do we join the battle? How do we best contend and fight for the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
I think there are three ways.
First, let the Gospel of Jesus have full reign in your life. Let Jesus be the true leader and Lord of your life. Let Jesus have His full way in you so that He transforms you into His image more and more. I love how Eugene Peterson translates Col 3:16-17 "Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way." Let's "contend for the faith" by cooperating with Jesus in our every day attitude, thoughts, words and actions.
Second, proclaim the Gospel of Jesus to everyone you know. Join Jesus' mission to share, talk about, verbally explain why Jesus had to leave Heaven, live a perfect life, die a sacrificial death, rise a victorious resurrection and ascend into Heaven. The Psalmist instructed, "Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does." Ps 96:2-3 Let's "contend for the faith" by verbally communicating the Gospel on a daily basis.
Third, protect the Gospel of Jesus. Fully and clearly understand the Gospel of Jesus and then fight for it. Do not let anyone change it or add to it or twist it. The evil one is a brilliant master at twisting God's glorious wisdom and truths. Let's not let that happen."For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time." 1 Cor 15:3-6 Let's us "contend for the faith" by protecting the Gospel.
How are you doing at pushing back the darkness by living, proclaiming and protecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Continuing to the battle together,
I have you ever been really excited about doing something you are passionate about and then something changed? Have you ever experienced God interrupting your plans with a new plan?
Jesus' younger brother, Jude, had this experience. Listen to why he wrote the letter entitled Jude.
"Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people." Jude 1:3
At first, Jude wanted to write about the glorious, generous gift of salvation that we Christians have experienced. But, God interrupted his plans. God compelled him to write about something different, to go down another road, to take a different direction.
Have you ever experienced God "compelling" you?
Have you ever had God interrupt your plans to do something He wants you to do?
I think this is the exciting, terrifying adventure for all Christians. Isn't that what the book of Acts is all about? Isn't it the Acts of the Holy Spirit "compelling" the disciples of Jesus to share the Gospel with different people in different locations that launched the church?
On their way to worship and prayer, Peter and John were interrupted by a man who had been crippled his entire life who asked for money. Wasn't it the compelling of the Holy Spirit that led Peter to give him Jesus' healing power?
Wasn't it the Holy Spirit who "compelled" Philip to go to a city in Samaria to share the Gospel of Jesus which unleashed so much freedom in Christ? Wasn't it the Holy Spirit that "compelled" Cornelius to connect with Peter?
The extremely important question that we all need to ask is, is this "compelling" really from God or not? Is it from the living Savior Jesus Christ or is it from someone or something else? How do you know? God reveals some wise steps to take to discern if this "compelling" is from God or not.
1. Did this idea come out of a time of waiting and seeking God?
Studying Jesus' life through the four biographies of Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we clearly see that Jesus daily met with His Heavenly Father for direction, debriefing and worship. Mark 1:35 we see Jesus having a spiritual breakfast with God. During that time, God "compelled" Jesus to go to another town and do ministry. As the Antioch Church was "compelled" by God to send out Paul and Barnabus, it was in the context of worship, fasting and prayer. So, did the "compelling" come during times of seeking God, times of spiritual disciplines?
2. Does it sound like God?
Does it sound like it is coming from the characteristics and attributes of God? Or is it coming from our culture/world, or from other people, or from ourselves or from the evil one? Ideas come from all of these sources. Jesus explained, "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come to give life and give it to the full." John 10:10 Does the idea of honoring God sound like it is coming from Him in order to build His Kingdom?
3. Does it line up with the Bible?
God will never contradict Himself. He is not a confusing God where you have to discover a secret code or something. Most of the time our decisions can clearly be seen right in Scripture. "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit,you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Gal 5:16-26
4. What do wise Christian brothers or sisters in Christ think about the idea?
"Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety." Pr 11:14
"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice." Pr12:15
"Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." Pr 19:20-21
5. How does this idea fit with who God created you to be?
"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Eph 2:10 (NLT) With the skills, spiritual gifts and personality of who God created you to be, does this "compelling" help you honor God the best?
If you can say "yes" to all these criteria, obey God the best that you can. Risk and do what God is "compelling" you to do. If not, throw that idea away and keep seeking Jesus.
Desiring to obey all of Jesus' "compellings,"
Relationships progress or regress. We are either becoming closer or we are drifting apart. When it comes to our relationship with Jesus, are you progressing or regressing?
Have you ever thought about how one of Jesus' younger brothers grew in his relationship with Jesus?
Jude, one of Jesus' younger brothers wrote a letter to Christians entitled, Jude. He starts the letter with this greeting...
"This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James." Jude 1
Jude described himself as the brother of James. This James is also a younger brother of Jesus. So, what would it have been like to grow up with the oldest brother who was perfect? Could they ever live up to the standard that Jesus set? Did they have inner battles of jealousy and envy? Did they ever complain to their parents about the challenges to live up to this perfect older brother? How did Jesus respond and relate with them? I wonder how He eased their fears, anger and complaints.
How about when they were adults and Jesus began to do His ministry? They must have questioned, "Who does Jesus think He is teaching like He did, challenging the religious leaders like He did, doing these supposed miracles like He did?"
Mark recorded this, "When His family heard about this, they went to take charge of Him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind.'" Mark 3:21 Jude, along with the rest of his family, thought Jesus was crazy and did not believe what Jesus was saying and doing. John recorded, "Even His own brothers did not believe in Him." John 7:5 Jude rejected Jesus as the Messiah.
Then sometime after the death and resurrection of Jesus, Jude must have met up with his older, perfect and crazy brother in His resurrected body. Because, Jude described that he now related to Jesus as a servant of Jesus, a bond slave of Jesus. He could not mention that he was Jesus' younger brother. He could not mention that he doubted and questioned Jesus. He could only declare, "Jesus, You are God in human flesh. You are The Messiah. You are my King, whom I will serve. Just say the word King Jesus and I will do what you want me to do, for I am a slave of Jesus Christ."
The progression of a younger, possible jealous brother, to a denying, rejecting man to a servant of the most high King. What a progression! What a life transformation! What a testimony!
How have you progressed in your relationship with Jesus?
Who is Jesus to you?
A person in history?
A world renown teacher?
Someone distant, whom you do not think much about?
A possible family member?
A possible person you might become angry with?
A man who is still alive and sitting at the right hand of God?
Your Savior? Your Friend? Your Lord? Your Leader?
Jesus, help us to grow in our understanding of who You are. Help us to become more like Jude and be a "Just Say The Word" family member of Yours.
A listening ear to the King of Kings,
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.