TO CHEW ON: "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude 20-21
Jude, the brother of James wrote the short letter of Jude. It's a letter of warning to an unnamed church or churches. False teachers were the problem.
Jude talks of the havoc these teachers had created by comparing them to Bible characters. They acted in the spirit of:
Cain: destruction. Cain murdered his brother instead of caring for him (Genesis 4:8).
Balam: greed. Balam was a prophet who consented to try to curse Israel for King Balak in return for money (Numbers 21 & 22).
Korah: rebellion. Korah led a rebellion against Moses (Numbers 6:1-24).
How can the people resist these teachers? Jude says by "building yourselves up on your most holy faith."
The phrase "building yourselves up" brings to mind the gym. There people do multiple repetitions of exercises (sit-ups, crunches, leg lifts, bench presses, cycling, etc.) to build up different parts of the body. What would a spiritual workout look like? It could consist of reading, studying and memorizing the Bible, praying in the Holy Spirit (praise, thanksgiving, petition, intercession, worship), and singing.
The crowd of runners we pass on our way to church Sunday morning have tapped into another effective way to work out physically. They do it together. This gives them companionship, accountability, even safety. In our spiritual workout program, this would compare to being part of a faith community — a church, home group or Bible study group. (Of course Jude's letter, written out of the need to warn church members about false teachers within tells us that such togetherness also has its hazards.)
Of course in order for a physical workout program to accomplish what we want it to, it has to be consistent. That's where we get tested. For no matter how exciting a fitness program is at the beginning, it's hard to stick with it. Doing the same exercises over and over can get boring. Sometimes we're tired and don't feel like exercising. We may not notice any difference in our body and wonder if it's actually making us stronger.
Sticking with a spiritual fitness program is just as challenging. Some parts of the Bible are hard to understand. We may wonder if our prayers are making any difference. We may get discouraged by the spiritually immature tendencies we still see in ourselves and feel disheartened when temptations still trip us up. But just like sticking with a physical fitness program eventually brings about changes in our bodies, so sticking with regular routine of spiritual fitness will strengthen us spiritually.
Do you work out spiritually? If not, decide to make such a program a part of your routine. Life is full of challenges. You'll want to face them with a well-toned faith.
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for being my teacher and trainer. Help me to be as devoted to developing my faith as I am to caring for my body. Amen.
MORE: Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude
Today the church celebrates the Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude. The liturgy for this day begins with the following collect:
O God, we thank you for the glorious company of the apostles, and especially on this day for Simon and Jude; and we pray that, as they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so we may with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.