Hi girls, we’ve got that Friday feeling here again.
Put the kettle on, crack open the Hobnobs, it’s time for another look at Jude!
This time it’s an interesting one because we pick the passage up in verse 20, after a lengthy description of all that’s going wrong and the corruption that’s taking hold of the Church and the gospel. We learned already about the urgency Jude expressed when it came to us ‘fighting’ to keep hold of the truth and so he goes on to explain how bad it can be and how distorted the message of Jesus becomes when we let sin take hold and live our own way.
But here, in verse 20 and 21, we find amazing words that not only offer encouragement but also the tools to navigate the difficult times we live in.
It says: “But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the centre of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!”
I love these words.
I love the fact he recognises we can at times be weak – but offers us hope that we can in fact build ourselves up.
How? By praying in the Holy Spirit. Girls, this isn’t some command to be weird or to do something strange, it’s simply a call to remember we have a Spirit who intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8:26) and in the times when we are at our weakest we can allow Him to speak on our behalf, expressing that which is buried deep inside of us. And it’s from this place of intimacy with God that we MUST rise up from a low place, how could we not, when we are being pulled up again by a divine connection to Heaven itself?
I also love the picture that God would want us to be ready, with our arms outstretched. You know, our posture says a lot about what we expect from life doesn’t it? When you meet a person who remains with folded arms, there’s no doubt they have no intention of ‘opening’ up to new friendships; for whatever reason, their arms tell the world they are closed off to that possibility. In the same way, a baby projects an entirely different picture, toddling towards a loving parent with arms flung wide, happy to embrace love and support and only too keen to be embraced.
This image of us remaining at the centre of God’s love, holding firm to the incredible gospel of grace that comes only from Jesus Christ, with open arms ready to receive his mercy is such a beautiful prospect. As women we can often be hard on ourselves – not willing to accept the love and mercy that comes from anyone, far less from our Saviour – and yet here we have the biblical outline, God’s direction, that it’s exactly how He wants us. Girls, when was the last time we came before God without a sense of entitlement (God, have I not served you all my life? God, do you not see how faithful I have been to you…) or expectation? When was the last time we took a minute to fully surrender to the one Most Worthy, to acknowledge that we simply do not deserve a relationship with Him, and that we couldn’t have it without his profound and everlasting mercy shown through the sacrifice of Jesus?
I’m already straightening my back and looking heavenward with a new expectation and understanding that He has more to give me, just by writing this!
The final words are great too, aren’t they? ‘This is the unending life, the real life!’
This reminds me of something that happened to me a few years ago. I was in a really busy season of life, working long hours, two young kids, running a church and just finding that 24 hours wasn’t enough time in the day. One evening I settled down, on a rare night off, to watch the soaps, in my jammies, when my husband announced that he had invited a couple round who were having marriage issues. I’d love to say I was delighted to switch off the TV, get back into my jeans and welcome them in, but I wasn’t. I was annoyed that I had no ‘me’ time. I was annoyed that I was giving up my evening to ‘go round the block’ again with a couple whose ‘mess’ I deemed to be their own fault. But God stepped in. With just an overwhelming sense of His presence these words came to mind, ‘Lindsay, you are more bothered about fake people in fake situations on a TV show than you are about real people in your real life.’ It was like a blow to my chest. I felt winded. But God was right. I had completely forgotten that when God found me up to my young eyes in sin, contaminated and separate from Him, it was nobody’s fault but my own. And yet he accepted me. He gave His all for me. So that I could go free, so that I could go from someone not bad to good (there are lots of good people who don’t know Jesus) but dead to alive! He paid the price for me to find real life.
Girls, let’s not forget, this beautiful weekend, what it is we have in Christ. Life is not life ladies, if we are not connected to the one who creates and sustains life, without Him it is merely an existence. But He came that we could have LIFE and LIFE to the full. How blessed we are.
There’s a whole world out there wondering, hoping, dreaming for more. If only they knew it was simply a matter of leaving that old ‘life’ behind and embracing the one who died so we can live.