“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude 3-4 NIV)
Have you ever felt really uneasy about a friend’s behavior and have been reluctant to talk with her about it? Is there something that bothers you about the lifestyles or beliefs of some of those in your church or ministry? We are not a society that relishes confrontation, but Jude says we need to have more of a “fighting spirit” when it comes to the Christian faith.
From reading the letters of Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude, we know there were people seeking to alter and thus diminish the message of the Gospel. There were those who said grace was not enough to receive salvation, while others claimed grace covered over all sin and thus one could live as he pleased without consequence. Jude was dealing with the latter and was quick to tell his friends not to turn a blind eye, but to fight for the faith.
How often do we feel the need to fight for the faith, to stand up against wrong thinking and living among our Christian brothers and sisters? Of course, Jude is not talking about physical confrontation or threats. He is talking about having the courage to speak up for the Truth in situations where it has been clearly distorted. When Christian friends justify their sin by saying, “We all sin, and God forgives me,” Jude says we need to speak up and contend for the Faith that calls us to confession and repentance. When someone says, “God just wants us to be happy,” Jude says we need to fight for the Faith that calls us to deny ourselves and take up the Cross. When a brother says, “Though I am a Christian, I believe there are many paths to God,” Jude says we need to stand up for the Faith that follows the One who says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
It is much easier to keep quiet than to stand up and contend for the Faith. In fact, we would all rather focus on more positive things, just as Jude confessed he would. But he felt the distortion of the Gospel compelled immediate action. So he urged his friends to have the courage to speak up and take a stand for Truth.
You may, like the friends of Jude, be reluctant to create a stir by speaking up for Truth. But clearly when the message of the Gospel is threatened within our own Christian community, it is important that we stand up and defend it.
Today, have the courage to speak up if that is what is needed.
© Jim Musser 2017