Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thoughts from Jude

I've been enjoying reading the New Testament in The Message translation. Here is part of Jude, with some thoughts.

" 17-19But remember, dear friends, that the apostles of our Master, Jesus Christ, told us this would happen: "In the last days there will be people who don't take these things seriously anymore. They'll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts." These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves. There's nothing to them, no sign of the Spirit!"

I usually think of unchurched people when I heard "don't take these things seriously...treat them like a joke...make a religion of their own whims and lusts." But this description is also about those in our churches! "These are the ones who split churches" because of selfishness.

It would be awful to have written on your tombstone, "There was nothing to him, no sign of the Spirit."
"20-21But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God's love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!"

It's worship-work to keep my arms outstretched. I always need God's continuing mercy.
" 22-23Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven."

We are so often guilty of crushing tender shoots "hesitant in the faith." And how often do I "go after" someone on the wrong path, vs. cluck my tongue and say to myself, "too bad he's on the wrong path" ?

Being tender with sinners but not soft on sin -- this is the Jesus way (I think of John 8, the woman caught in adultery and hauled before Jesus). This is not the world's way. Apart from the Holy Spirit working in our Jesus-transformed minds and hearts, we oscillate wildly between celebrating sin and condemning it (mostly in others).
"24-25And now to him who can keep you on your feet, standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating—to our one God, our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master, be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time, and now, and to the end of all time. Yes."

For some reason my mind goes to a running back in football, getting slammed with tacklers, yet somehow keeping his feet and pushing ahead. Jesus can keep me on my feet! And I can be fresh and celebrating in His bright presence, not quaking in fear or despondent.

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