You, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. – Jude 1:20-23
Coming together to talk about the worst experiences we have been through is a big and scary ask. Being open about something we haven’t been open about for years, if ever, is not a small thing. I know this because, for many years, I never want to talk about the difficult struggles of life – especially the ones I was involved in. It took coming into a loving community of God’s people to show me my Christian faith wasn’t simply knowledge about God I had stored up in my head or the truth that my sins were forgiven so I could go to “heaven”, but was something that had very real power to heal the wounds I carried around (Rom 15:13).
The community of God’s people is where I was asked loving and direct questions that God used to show me he loved me and that the gospel of Jesus Christ didn’t just have eternal consequences for me, but had very real and powerful ramifications in helping me heal from the wounds of sin in my life in the here and now.
This passage in Jude was one that helped me see the power of God’s Spirit in his people. In it, Jude is closing his letter, giving final instructions for faithfulness to the Christians he is writing to. They are two-fold: build yourselves up and care for those who are hurting and wandering.
This is a simple explanation of the purpose of Christian community. Church participation is great, but your life of faith cannot end there. To truly experience the transformation we read about in Scripture and in the lives of countless millions who have gone before us, you must be in a community of believers where you are being built up in your faith and caring for those who are hurting and wandering.
In the difficult topics we have coming up in our sermon series: abuse, abandonment, shame, guilt, depression, anxiety, and addiction, it is especially important we remember the call of God to us through Jude to build each other up in the faith, keep ourselves in the love of God, show mercy to one another, and to snatch others out of the fire.
That might include asking tough questions, calling out believed lies and deceptions, and leading one another to the loving mercy of Jesus Christ.
Preparing your heart for both the pursuing love of God for you and to be used to pursue others with his love is spectacularly beautiful because it sets us in a place of reliance and trust in God. May you have the courage and faith to do just that.