Through the month of October on this blog, I want to tackle the book of Jude, a simple yet profound New Testament letter penned by Jude, the brother of James.
As the Thompson Chain Reference Bible notes in its overview of this book – “The Lord’s brothers did not believe in him at first. John 7:5; but after the Resurrection they became his followers, Acts 1:14. It is possible that Jude, because of his early unbelief, felt that we was not worthy to sign himself as brother of Jesus. So in writing the letter he called himself simply a servant, v.1.”
God has opened up some opportunities for me in recent years to engage leaders, who are grappling with unbelief. Doubt is not more common than we care to admit, and even the letter of Jude (v.22) exhorts true Christ-followers to “be merciful to those who doubt.” Often times expressed doubt leads to a “shunning,” a sort of “How could you possibly?” and a turning away from those who need engagement with truth.
I am encouraged in reading Francis Schaeffer’s life story to discover he battled doubt which led him to a complete reexamination of and reaffirmation of his faith. I have, in my ministry, used the illustration of leaving home on a trip, and experiencing the nagging question among family members that a curling iron (not mine of course), a coffee pot, or some other appliance has been left in the “ON” mode. Should we go back? Yes, absolutely yes and even if we discover the small appliance was off, we move forward again more assured. Self-examination, careful self-examination, under the guidance of the Spirit of God and using the Word of God provides an opportunity to address key issues in our lives. I’ve often wondered if as church leaders we really encourage and model this Biblically mandated process.
“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James.”
What a self description! Now this is a Biblical “selfie” with a pen guided by the Holy Spirit of God.
1) Jude – his personal proper name;
2) a servant of Jesus Christ – Is there any greater calling? We do not simply serve people, we serve the best Master in all the world, one who died for us and rose again;
3) and a brother of James – We all have an interconnectedness with other believers. We have a “family” in which God has placed us, brothers and sisters who provoke us, encourage us and are urging us to pursue God.
So, the next time you’re tempted to take another “selfie” with your smartphone, why not pause, reflect on this principle and make sure that Jesus Christ and others are part of the picture! Something to think about….