Jude

(1) Beloved, this short letter was the only one written by Jude, or Judas, a brother of Jesus and James. Like James, he believed in my Son’s grace and gave his life to following him. He addressed this letter to his fellow believers who had heard the call of my love.

(2) Jude offered a short blessing, “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” Beloved, let Jude’s words penetrate the core of your heart allowing my mercy, love, and peace to grow in increasing measure. These traits exist in infinite measure in the Trinity. The only limitation is your capacity to receive it. Keep stretching and opening your heart.

(3) Beloved, you share a common salvation with all who have received my Son’s grace and mercy. You have sisters and brothers all around the globe. Never lose sight of your interconnectedness. Continue striving to know the true faith. There are so many distortions of what it means to be a Christian. Beware of your own biased thinking, which can lead you away from the heart of the gospel, which my Son delivered to the earliest disciples.

(4) There have always been those who have distorted my Son’s message, sneaking in unnoticed. Their presentation of the truth is not 180 degrees off center, but closer to 3 degrees. Their deceptions are hard to see early on, but over time, their path diverges far from the start, and that road leads to death. Beware of those who want to twist my message of grace into permission for self-centered hedonism. That is not the way of the cross, which is a life of loving other-centeredness.

(5) The story line of salvation traces back to the beginning; it did not start on Good Friday. My Son saved people from slavery in Egypt through Moses. You may be wondering what Jude meant when he said that my Son led the people out of Egypt. He has always been involved in the plan of salvation; he did not first show up during the time of the Roman Empire. Although my people were led to the Promised Land, some were destroyed, because even though they were shown life, they chose the way of death.

(6) Some of my angels also decided to go their own way and ended up in darkness, unable to find their way back into the light and they will stay in that gloomy place until the end.

(7) Remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The people of those cities stomped upon the ways of love, taking whatever they wanted through power and inducing fear. Their hatred for all that is good and loving led to punishment by fire.

(8-9) This pattern of hatred continued generation after generation. People engage in all sorts of twisted methods of living. They let their own dreams guide their lives, even if their visions run contrary to the ways of love. They mistreat their bodies and the bodies of others, all in service to pleasure seeking. They verbally abuse and reject those who practice true love. When you see these things happening, do not take pronouncing judgment upon yourself. Leave it to me, just as my archangel Michael did when engaging with the devil. He did not debate nor condemn; he simply said, “I leave it to the Lord to rebuke you.”

(10) Those who practice evil reject something they do not even understand, setting up caricatures of my kingdom and then feeling self-important when they knock them down. They live for sensual pleasures like animals, dehumanizing themselves and others.

(11) They do not understand the destruction they invite upon themselves. Like Cain, Balaam, and Korah, they are dissatisfied with the way my kingdom operates and they go their own selfish ways. Beloved, do not live only for yourself.

(12-13) The people who tell you that you should look out for yourself, seeking pleasure even at the expense of others, are deceptive and dangerous. They are like jagged rocks hidden beneath the water just off a beautiful beach. You may want to go ashore, but the ship will be destroyed in the process. They are like waterless clouds in a dry season, promising to quench your thirst, but leave you wanting even more. They are like barren fruit trees; you wait for a crop but are doubly disappointed when you find their branches empty. They stir up like wild waves—all power but leaving nothing but disintegration and destructive shame in their wake. They are like celestial bodies who move about, waiting to be noticed, but eventually wander into utter darkness and away from light’s true source.

(14-16) Going on, Jude brought to his readers’ attention the words of Enoch, which you will not find in the Old Testament, but it is contained in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint (LXX). Enoch had written how I would arrive with a legion of angels to reveal all the self-centered, evil ways of these false teachers whose words and actions were directed against me. They lived only for themselves, complaining when things did not go their way. They were never satisfied with my provision, instead going out of their way to seek pleasure. They bragged about their own success and their possessions, treating the powerful better than the powerless. Beloved, this manner of living is evil and contradicts the heart of my kingdom.

(17-18) Do not be surprised when these things happen. The New Testament writers make it clear that as the gap widens between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of the world, people will become even more disrespectful and dismissive, caring nothing for the common good, but pursuing their own passions and pleasures. There would be sarcastic, scoffing, self-seekers who act in opposition to love.

(19) Love seeks wholeness, not merely for one, but for all. You cannot be whole by yourself because you are all interdependent. Evil tells you to put yourself first, even if it means division. Living for the world means ignoring the voice of my Spirit.

(20-21) But hear me, beloved, you build yourself up by building up the kingdom of love. Listen to my Spirit who always reminds you of my lovingkindness. When you begin to doubt my love, it leads to self-protection that harms you and others. Never lose sight of my Son’s mercy, which marks the road all the way to eternity.

(22-23) Allow my mercy toward you to fan the flame of your mercy for others. You will encounter many who harbor doubts about me and doubt that the way of love actually works. With patience and lovingkindness, show them that the way of self-centeredness is the road to destruction.

Even with those who seem hell-bent on following the self-destructive path, I still want you to be an agent of mercy, so that they might witness the way of the kingdom, but stay vigilant so that you do not end up following them straight to hell. I want love for all my image bearers to pour out from you constantly, but in doing so, do not embrace the sinfulness that leads to destruction.

(24-25) Jude finished his short letter with a song of praise to my Son. Always keep the splendor and glory of my Son in view. He is fully God and the only Savior of a broken creation. Jesus alone keeps you on the right path. He is your purity, presenting you spotlessly. As you are filled with joy about what he has done, is doing, and yet will do, let your life be a song of praise magnifying his glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, both now and forevermore.