Saturday, December 17, 2016
by Keenan Rodgers
But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; for they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts.” It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on some who are wavering; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies. Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
This text is interesting as much for what it contains as it is for what it leaves out. It begins with verse 17. Verses 1-16 offer sharp words about false teachers and those that would seek to divide the community of believers. Verse 17 begins with “But you, beloved…”–a pivot of focus. Jude shifts from talking about “them,” to talking directly to the reader. He encourages the reader to be present and focus on what matters. Broadly, the two things the writer says matter are building up your own faith and encouraging others in the same.
Advent is a season of waiting. Whether it’s Christ the child savior, or Christ the returning redeemer, we’re waiting for Him. That the selected verses begin with a pivot suggests to me that we are to spend this season of waiting being present in this place and time. Don’t worry about “the scoffers.” If we paid any attention to the apostles, we knew they were coming. Focus on what matters. Focus on what you can do. Focus on staying strong in the faith and doing all you can to build up the community of believers around you. How?
Pray in the Holy Spirit.
Keep yourself in the love of God.
Look forward–not backward–to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Have mercy on others who struggle in their faith, as we all do at times.
Friends, I pray this Advent season that you would take on that challenge. Build up your faith, even as you are now via this devotional. And participate in the community of believers that mercifully encourages each other along as we travel this life “Joyfully Together.”