Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
What can we do to keep ourselves faithful to God in difficult circumstances – conflict within the church community, false teachers in the pulpit, persecution from outside? That’s the question Jude seeks to address in the final few verses of his letter. He has previously explained the danger posed by false teachers, and reminded his readers that they – just like the rest of us – will ultimately stand under God’s judgement.
Jude urges that his readers ‘keep yourselves in God’s love’. Perhaps this means maintaining our own love for God, or maybe it refers more to keeping ourselves in a sphere where we can be assured of God’s love for us. Whatever Jude meant, it is clear that he longed for his readers to be ‘kept for Jesus Christ’ (verse 1).
Jude offers three recommendations for this: building ourselves up in our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, and waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. They can perhaps be translated into community, prayer, and hope.
Building ourselves up in the faith may have to do with strengthening our trust in God. Or, in line with Jude’s earlier call to ‘contend for the faith’ (verse 3), it could refer to the body of Christian truth passed on to us. In either case, our faith is renewed and upheld in Christian community, come what may.
Prayer also plays a key part in maintaining faith for the long haul. As believers, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and thus can pray in line with his will. We will see answered prayer. And even if we are struggling, ‘the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans’ (Romans 8:26).
And then comes hope. Hope anchors the soul, particularly in trying and difficult circumstances. To keep in mind the hope of salvation, won for us by and secure in the person of Jesus Christ, means that we can never truly despair.
Which of those do you find hardest? Community, prayer, or hope? I guess it probably depends on the day – it certainly does for me. But wherever you find yourself this week, begin by reminding yourself of Jude’s advice, and his promise: that the ‘mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ’ will ‘bring you to eternal life’.