Come to Jesus. That’s probably what Jude had in mind when he wrote his letter to fellow Christians whom he felt had experienced an “identity theft.” Jude’s tiny little letter in the Bible carries a huge punch to the Christian community to rediscover their true identity in Christ.
Those of us who are coaches, parents or leaders understand the “come to Jesus” mindset. There are times when our players, children and followers begin to lose their way, forgetting who they truly are. We live in a culture that wants to influence everything about our individual identities, especially in the sports world. When I see this happening, I tend to gather my troops and give them a “come to Jesus” talk.
Jude lays it on the line. In verse 3, he says he was eager to talk about how he and his fellow Christians have a common salvation in Christ. But, seeing all of Satan’s attacks on the church with lies and deception, Jude decides it is of greater importance to challenge his brothers and sisters in Christ to contend for the faith. The Greek word for “contend” is epagognizomai, which is where we get “agony” or “to agonize.” It means to wrestle, struggle, battle or fight. It’s important to remember that, as a Christian, we are not fighting for victory but rather from the victory of Christ’s death and resurrection.
I’m sick of soft, spineless Christianity. Aren’t you? Jude was. He laid it on thick, but it was appropriate and necessary. Jude knew Satan had certain people creeping into the church who were denying the sole authority of Christ and perverting the grace of God into sensuality, much like those in Sodom and Gomorrah who perverted God’s design for sexual intimacy (between a married man and woman) to homosexual misconduct (which God refers to as unnatural).
This sinful mindset exists today as homosexuality and sex outside of marriage have crept into the church’s thinking, often labeling mature Christians standing firmly for Biblical truth as unloving intolerants. Jude, in his day, wasn’t folding up the tent that easily. He warns his fellow Christians of folks who try to live their lives on their own instincts rather than the Word of the Lord. He mentions Cain, whose offering to the Lord was insufficient and superficial.
In Jude’s day, Christians were abandoning their true identity in Christ. Today, it’s a man-centered morality, an inauthentic offering that looks good but has no deep roots and stinks to high heaven before our holy God. It’s a Christ-less, cross-less character. Jude mentions Balaam, who in the book of Numbers flirted with the enemy and compromised God’s truth. So many of us today just can’t believe that God desires us to take a real fighting stand in obedience to His grace and truth. Fear of losing our jobs or reputation tempts us to fold the tent and go strangely silent when the political correctness movement threatens us.
Jude wanted no part of the wishy-washy stuff. He gets after spiritual leaders and accuses some of them of feeding themselves. It’s a reminder to those of us who are in ministry leadership of any kind: We are called to feed our flocks and steward the land for Christ. It ain’t about nickels and noses—the size of our church or the number of sports camps we conduct. It’s about the grace and truth of Jesus Christ extending across this planet at any cost. There’s nothing wrong with size or numbers, but it can’t be like water-less clouds swept along by the winds, or fruitless trees in late autumn.
Jude also mentions those of us Christians who kiss up to certain worldly powers, showing favoritism to gain advantage for ourselves. He might as well be saying to stop shaking hands with the enemy. Don’t come to a middle-of-the-road, toned-down expression of Jesus just so we can keep our jobs, promotions or reputations. That’s not contending for the truth.
As a kid, my sneaky and deceptive nature made me great at “Hide and Seek.” The seekers rarely could find me. When they’d finally give up, they would yell “Olly Olly En-try,” which meant to stop hiding—it’s time to reveal your true identity! Game over.
Second Timothy 1:7 reminds us of who we are and who we are not. If you truly know Jesus, you are not a fearful, worldly, wishy-washy, apathetic, neutral, cover-your-rear-end person who gets bought off at every turn. You have a new identity. You’re an ambassador of Jesus with a spirit of power, love and a sound mind.
God renamed Jacob to Israel. Jacob means “deceiver,” and Israel means “God fights.” I love that. If we know Christ, we are no longer of a spirit of deceit. Rather, our identity is now of a fighter for God’s grace and His truth against the opposition of this world.
Don’t you think it’s time for a “come to Jesus” meeting?
Originally published May 2014