“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3)
Unpacking the obvious
Before we begin to do that very thing, I’d like to make two clear points. The first one is that I really don’t like the word “unpack”. As I first heard it during an election season to describe things that no one in retrospect knows were elucidated clearly, I have a hard time seeing it as something more than what David Foster Wallace might call a “puff word”. Second, the above verse from Jude carries serious interpretive latitude if one is not infused with the Holy Spirit’s view on the matter. It’s the “faith which was once delivered”. All I’m doing is using it in line with the whole shipping metaphor. Nothing more.
Delivered. To the doorstep of your heart and you let Him in. You’ve accepted Christ as savior and you’re now on a first-name basis. Jesus is your all but after a heady spiritual birth, the struggle to maintain that fire in light of either lack of oxygen or someone trying to blow it out can be quite the struggle. How do we know what to add and what to dismiss? Part and parcel is the whole package. Jude is saying to keep it pure, to keep unwanted influences out. Just know that the things that would encroach and seek to sully the purity of your faith (and as such, the atmosphere of a church) will be anything but obvious.
So much packing material
“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4)
Crept in unawares? But why wasn’t someone watching? The whole frog in (hot) water analogy comes to mind. Jesus expresses it bluntly referring to the “hireling”, “whose own the sheep are not” (John 10:10). When Jude referred to the “ungodly men”, he alludes to the fact that they never had a heart resonant with Jesus. To where Jesus says that there are those who turn off at the mere sight of “the wolf”. It’s a matter of staying close to Jesus. In maintaining the purity of your small group, your church, the Church, I don’t know how else to say it:
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so I know the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15)
The present moment
Seeing every moment as a present is a tired metaphor. While it doesn’t make it any less of an entendre or any less true, try and voice it to someone slogging through their day (out of the Holy Spirit’s leading), you’ll probably meet with cynicism or derision. The trick is to know that the moment can indeed be filled with a timelessness and beauty that can only come from Heaven. But it takes effort to add on the necessary things to enable these things to come about. Yes, it’s true that “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” (Psalm 97:11) But it’s because we make this effort (don’t forget to bend your knees before lifting):
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)