There was a time in my life when I could not get enough of the news. I would have my television set on Fox News, my laptop would stream the news while I was cooking, and I made it a point never to miss a second of Rush Limbaugh’s three hour program. I craved the news, I lived the news, and I would indulge myself in an occasional argument or two in regard to the news. Conservative politics was my life and I felt that I was called by God to push the agenda by whatever means necessary to infiltrate the darkness and shed brilliant light on the scope and purpose of the US Constitution, which for me at the time, had all the force of a God-breathed document; one I saw was useful for teaching, rebuking, correction, and training in righteousness. I look back on that time period of my life and cannot help but flush with embarrassment on how indoctrinated by the establishment I had become. I had truly lost sight of what it meant to be called a “slave to Christ.”
Do not get me wrong, I am not saying it is a bad thing to contend for a cause or to stand up for conservative politics; what I am saying is that when politics become more important than contending for the Gospel of Christ, one really needs to sit back and take inventory of the heart, for out of the overflow will man speak. In today’s political climate, however, I am not as inclined to content for a cause or firmly plant myself on one side of the aisle or the other. I find that I do not agree with either side, and I am terribly afraid to turn on the news because what anyone has to report just breaks my heart. I see a country in dire need of healing. I see a people in need of truth. I hear the heartbreaking cry of a new generation for someone to speak boldly, and the one that does so gets their undying loyalty. The people of America today are truly sheep without a shepherd and are desperate to follow anyone who purports to have the answers they so deeply crave.
This is an incredible opportunity for the Church. In Christ we have been given the answers and have a good shepherd who hears his sheep and has gone to great lengths to treat them with compassion. Now is the time for the people of God to stand up and speak boldly the message of the Gospel and not shy away from the truth that has the power to set captives free from the bondage of sin. I am of the opinion that Jude’s letter speaks directly to our generation as he writes:
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, to exhort you, that ye should earnestly contend for the maintenance of the faith, which was once given unto the Saints” (GNV Jude 3).
Jude is addressing a people who had been infiltrated by a group of false teachers who believed that the freedom and liberty given to believers through the Gospel of Christ necessarily creates a license to sin. This can be seen today in many of the mainline denominations of the Christian faith as they seek to mirror the culture and position their teaching as inclusive of all peoples regardless of behavior with the message that God loves without requiring a transformation of the mind (GNV Ro 12.1-2). In essence, the postmodern church has lost the concept of the holiness of God.
It was not Jude’s first intention to write a letter that spoke of the dangers of false teachers and the need to contend for a pure Gospel. His heart was to write a letter praising the salvation that all believers share in Christ; in fact he writes that he felt this desire as the with all diligence. The NIV translates this sentence as he was “very eager.” This is where his heart lies; however, circumstances required him to write a letter with a very different topic, a challenging topic, a topic that was a call to action for the Church.
As he looked at the world around him, Jude could not help but see that it was fallen and in need of bold truth. He saw teachers within the Church who:
“…turn the grace of our God into wantonness, and deny God the only Lord and our Lord Jesus Christ” (GNV 4).
All around him, he witnessed the echoes of Sodom and Gomorrah as men of the Church:
“…committed fornication, and followed strange flesh…likewise notwithstanding these sleepers also defile the flesh, and despise government, and speak evil of them that are in authority…but these speak evil of those things, which they know not; and whatsoever things they know naturally as beasts, which are without reason, in those things they corrupt themselves” (GNV 7-10).
What I find interesting is that Jude was not addressing the people of the world, he was looking directly into the eyes of the Church and the teachings that had been allowed to pervert the pure Gospel taught by the Apostles. These are harsh words condemning the acceptance of false teachings and a call to his readers to not sit idly by as these teachings lead people astray. Look closely at the words Jude uses as he appeals to his readers:
“..exhort you, that ye should earnestly contend for the maintenance of the faith” (GNV 3).
This is not an appeal to sit by and hope that these teachers to do not shipwreck the faith. This is not a call to do damage control. It is a call to actively contend for the purity of the faith by calling out those who teach that God allows for licentiousness and sin because of the miraculous gift of salvation bought for us at Calvary. Jude calls for the Church to speak as Enoch spoke to his generation and to warn the people that:
“Behold, the Lord cometh with thousands of his Saints. To give judgement against all men, and to rebuke all the ungodly among them of all their wicked deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their cruel speakings, which wicked sinners have spoken against him” (GNV 14-15).
This is a call to remember that Christ did not die to negate the law or to give sin a license. Jesus himself warns:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (GNV Mt 5.17-20).
Beloved, we cannot stand idly by and allow this type of false teaching to permeate the Church. We need to heed the words of Jude who exhorts the Church to actively:
“…edify yourselves in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost. And keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto eternal life. And have compassion of some, in putting difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, and hate even that garment which is spotted by the flesh” (GNV Jude 21-23).
This is not an easy call. To speak truth into this generation will require a bold, fearless voice. It will call for the Church to stand firmly on the Gospel presented by the Apostles and testified to by the Prophets. Sin will need to be identified as sin and set in contrast to a Holy God. The message of Paul to the Roman church will need to be boldly proclaimed that those who choose to follow Christ must:
“…therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye give up your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable serving of God. And fashion not yourselves like unto this world, but be ye changed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God is” (GNV 12.1-2).
Being called to serve God means that we stop serving ourselves and indulging the sinful nature. It means adhering to a law that requires a standard of behavior. It means identifying sin as sin and making amends to “go and sin no more” (GNV Jn 8.11).
This generation is ripe for truth. It is in need of a shepherd that can speak with authority and boldness, standing true to what is believed. Our nation is hungry and calling out for strong leadership that is willing to go the distance. Right now the only people willing to speak boldly reside in the political forum or the media and what they offer is temporal, ever changing with the tide of popular opinion. There is nothing firm, steadfast, and reliable. The Word of God is steadfast, reliable, and true. It has the power to save whereas the word of man will falter. Church, we have an amazing opportunity and all we need to do is unashamedly take hold and boldly proclaim the truth of Christ crucified.