Jude – Whistle blower
My grandpa was a carpenter. He used a level in his work as a cabinet builder often. A level is a hand tool used by carpenters to determine a horizontal or vertical plane or line. The level is a wood or metal bar about 2′ long with four spirit levels set into it. What are “spirit levels”? Sounds religious, doesn’t it? This is a device used to set an instrument to true horizontal or true vertical, consisting of a glass tube nearly filled with liquid so a traveling air bubble is formed. When the bubble is right in the center, you know your object is set level. SO, when we say, tongue and cheek, that a person or thing is “a bubble off center”, that means something is not right, they are missing the point of the conversation, or just don’t get it.
Today, as in Jude’s day, pastors preach, worship leaders sing out, small group leaders lead their groups, greeters smile and all seems right…until it isn’t. We try hard to put our finger on it and can’t. We invite “coaches” inside our ranks to take a look. The disease is spreading and the cause doesn’t seem to be evident. Jude is a leader among believers who writes a short letter, just before the Revelation in our Bibles. He takes time to blow the whistle on what is not right so that the disease of being “a little bubble off center” can be corrected so that the virus can be abated. Stopped. The course in our journey as the Body of Christ corrected so that God’s glory is seen once more and HIS Name praised to the heavens and back again. Jesus is that center.
Our spiritual communities are as susceptible to disease as our physical bodies. But it is easier to detect whatever is wrong in our stomachs and lungs than in our worship and witness. When our physical bodies are sick or damaged, the pain calls our attention to it, and we do something quick. But a dangerous, even deadly, virus in our spiritual communities can go undetected for a long time. As much as we need physicians for our bodies, we have even greater need for diagnosticians and healers of the spirit.
Jude’s letter to an early community to Christians is just such a diagnosis. It is all the more necessary in that those believers apparently didn’t know anything was wrong, or at least not as desperately wrong as Jude points out.
There is far more, of course, to living in Christian community than protecting the faith against assault or subversion. Paranoia is as unhealthy spiritually as it is mentally. The primary Christian posture is, in Jude’s words, “keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ.” All the same, energetic watchfulness is required. Jude’s whistle-blowing has prevented many a disaster.
Jude, The Message
1-2 I, Jude, am a slave to Jesus Christ and brother to James, writing to those loved by God the Father, called and kept safe by Jesus Christ. Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!
Fight with All You Have in You
3-4 Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.
What do we learn?
–Believers must guard, with all that is in us, the True Center of our communities…Jesus Christ, our Master.
–Listen to loving course corrections with open arms, ready for mercy from Jesus.
There’s more…one bite at a time.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We love you and repent of those times when You, dear Jesus, left the center of our thinking during worship, teaching and serving. We cannot remain a “bubble off center” if Your glory is to be seen, felt and embraced. Thank you for Coach Jude’s assessment and advice that is just as relevant today as it was then. May Your Presence continue to be with us, right at the center of our hearts, minds and souls, every day of our journey here.
In Jesus Name, Amen