I Say This Because…

As you read the next verse,  expect it to provoke a reaction in your heart and mind:

I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:4 NLT

Did you:

A) Defiantly get offended that something written so long ago by self-righteous hypocrites has anything to say about what is moral or immoral today

B) Proudly think to yourself, “Yeah, THOSE PEOPLE….” and immediately build a list of people in your mind whose sins you know fit this verse

C) Fearfully consider your own sinfulness and imperfections and wonder if your own giving in to temptation is any reflection of your having either fully accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior truly in your heart — or if those things might be evidence that you have said “Christian things” with your mouth but denied Him in your heart and need to repent and turn back to Him

D) Humbly realize your own perfections and shortcomings that you deal with daily,  but confidently and boldly stand on the truth that we must be “Holy as He is holy” and trust God to make this true in every area of our lives by His power, not just by our own efforts

Or maybe you have a different reaction, or even a combination of the above. The first word in each of those choices tells you what perspective those are coming from. Our “perspective”, “mood”, “spirit”, or whatever you would like to call it for the sake of this discussion is going to greatly influence how you “receive” the communication of this verse. And knowing your own state of mind is valuable.

I’m asking you right now to essentially step outside of your privileged biases and circumstances and mood — and to consider what “flavored” your reading of the scripture. Consider how much defiance, or pride,  or fear,  or humility may have played into how you received the message. And if you understand what I’m saying about how that might influence your perspective — can you accept that there are many other perspectives, moods, biases,  or spirits “whispering in your ear” while you read or hear or see something that might influence how you “receive” things from the world around you?

Be honest with yourself.

Are you defiant and quick to be offended by things around you? Quick to either dismiss or attack or grumble about anything that doesn’t fit “your way”?

Do you have high expectations of what other people “should” be or do? Are you critical and judgemental of others?

Does fear have influence on your decisions? Do you face the unknown by making great preparations, stockpiling, and anxiously contemplating what “might” happen and “what dangers lie ahead”?

Do you have a right balance of humility about your own abilities, even while trusting fully ands boldly in God’s promises?

All of us at different times might be in these different places, so don’t consider this a time to retreat in shame because you aren’t where you think I’m telling you that you “should be”. We are where God has us right now for a reason. The question is, are you taking the time to look at yourself “spiritually” to know where you are? If you are in a defiant, proud, fearful, humble, or other place/mood/Spirit/perspective — do you know this and consider this when facing messages that are coming to you through TV, radio, Internet, friends, coworkers, etc.? Can you see how this might “flavor” and bias not only your receipt of the message, but your response/reaction?

So here is our opportunity. I used our reaction to the verse to show us something hopefully deep and introspective about the verse and how we received it. Which in turn showed us something that we might be mindful about in our day to day activities. This can be a helpful exercise to better receive, respond and react wisely. However, this verse is not primarily about YOU.

No, the wisdom and insight that we are touching upon from just a piece of this verse is chock full and overflowing in the Word of God, because it is all central to revealing God and His ways to us. This verse is not about you are me, but is about Him.

The verse is about “God’s marvelous grace”. This message of Jesus Christ has been sent to us all, clear and perfect and beautiful and wise and helpful and full of love. But perspective/mood/spirit can either serve as blinders, as a veil, as a twisted and warped glass through which to receive the message — or healthy eyes and ears and heart to see, hear, and understand. This verse is about His grace being the substantive Truth, the One Way, One Truth, One Life that IS, regardless of the opinions, perspectives, or biases of people.

That Truth of His grace is not malleable into whatever people want to twist it into. It is not a respecter of our personal perspective, mood, or bias. We cannot twist it around to fit us, we are either torn down and rebuilt to confirm to it by falling upon the rock in repentance, or one day that rock will eventually fall upon us. That may sound like a hard or harsh truth if you aren’t ready to hear that, but nonetheless, it is true.

If you consider yourself a Christian, it is important to consider reading the book of Jude, even the whole Bible and consider whether you will let it change you to be more conformed to the image of Christ — or whether you have chosen that this verse IS about you and isn’t about Christ. There are only two characters in this verse — hell bound sinners, and Christ Jesus. May we find Him and His grace while there is still time. Amen.

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