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Posts Tagged ‘Jude’

If the Christ is keeping me from falling, then the implication is clear: my tendency is to fall. Probably, I am more off balance than on, leaning at an edge. Without the centering power of the Christ, I will cascade, slowly or quickly, depending on my grip, into the pit, the valley, the quicksand.

Jude 1:24
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—

I have just journeyed the Christmas season with little anchoring. I allowed the busy-ness of the holidays to pull me away from my center. Even church events became distractions instead of magnets, as well as shopping, wrapping, and food preparation – awesome Martha [Luke 10:40] activities – but little centering time. I discovered I can sing about the baby Jesus, I can listen to hymns, I can go to church and pray corporately, but it does not keep me from falling out of the Presence.

Like the woman with the issue of blood [Luke 8:43-48], I must be intentional in centering down with the Holy Spirit; I must reach out and grab onto to the cloak, the covering, the access points I have been given. Oh sure, God is gracious and merciful, and I am not condemned, but I have missed a blessing by not inhabiting the presence of Christ within.

Jude commends us to “pray IN in the Holy Spirit.” Some believe this phrase means to pray in tongues or other form of “spiritual” language. And I don’t discount these as possibilities, but I am more interested in the intent of praying WITH the Holy Spirit within. It is a joint effort, this type of praying, it is praying without boundaries, it is praying in unison, it is praying out of a relationship. It is divine. It is powerful. It is holy.

And from here, the soul is centered, the spirit is centered, and as a result, the body is centered, joined to the Spirit of Wholeness [holiness].

At this time of year, many begin looking to the New Year, with resolutions and goal setting. I have but one: to remain in the Presence of Holy Spirit who keeps me from falling.

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Painting by Titian, 16 Cent.

I’m pretty sure everything started out fairly normal for the brothers, Cain and Abel. Raised by the same parents, they got the same instruction, the same opportunities, the same attention; much like most siblings of today. So, what went wrong? And why is it a warning for me?

Jude 1:10-11a
Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them. Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain . . .

Things must have started going downhill long before the big moment in Genesis 4:3-5, when both boys brought an offering to God, Cain (the eldest) from his farm produce and Abel from his herds. The produce offering was rejected while the animal offering was accepted. Cain thought his offering was fine, the way to go. Maybe it didn’t occur to him to find out what would be better, or that something “could” be better. Maybe Abel just lucked out when he brought a blood sacrifice. We’ll never know.

But what we do know is that the Cain/Abel dynamic was already in place and Cain, instead of changing up to another offering or trying another way, resented his brother’s good fortune. I doubt he took any time at all to analyze his situation or consider some alternatives. He “went with his gut” and confronted his brother. Sometimes, I think people assume that Abel was Mr. Goody-2-Shoes and had the inside track on offering styles of the day. But, what if Abel was doing a little victory dance in the end zone? I’m just sayin.’

But here’s the point. I must be more cautionary in my actions, more circumspect. I may “think” I know what is going on, but then again, I may not. How easy it is to over-react. The “Way of Cain” is thoughtless, emotional, and brash. Cain’s way burns bridges and changes lives forever. Even if there is forgiveness for Cain, the damage is done.

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A fantasy story line comes to mind: certain characters are entrusted with a secret stone or message or magic phrase and they are called to face numerous odds to protect it, embrace it, and nurture it. With each successful engagement, the power enlarges but so does the evil that opposes it. Each time, engagement becomes more difficult. The opposition is weighty.

Jude 1:3b
. . . I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.

It’s fanciful I know, but I think, as believers, we sometimes lose the wonder of what we have in the Christ: that Holy Spirit, that Truth, that potential for joy and peace within. The experience of eternity is within. It is the spirit, after all, that lives on after the body fades. Part of the message we hold determines the quality of our eternity. We also lose track of the power of the opposition, as well as its inventiveness and ability to dissemble.

Does anyone else wonder why the message was sent in that particular era dominated by the Roman empire? What was it about the plight of the Jewish nation (one of many) that compelled God to send the whole Story. The people cried Hosanna! (save us) and God sent the most unlikely Savior, not a general leading a great army to destroy the Romans but a baby born to a couple of poor folks.

No instant messaging was available, no news feed, no reporters on the scene. In fact, what witnesses there were, few had much credibility: shepherds (one of the most disreputable “professions” of the day) were supposedly informed by a sky full of angels? Right. And what were they smoking? Or, what about those foreign guys: mystics and astronomers that weren’t even of the faith? They probably had an ulterior motive. I mean, the people closest to the event (like the innkeeper, let’s say), don’t seem to have much place in the story or what about all those other people who were stuck in Bethlehem for the census? No, I think it was a pretty hushed affair, just another baby and just another mouth to feed.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. [Luke 2:19]

Mary was the first one who was entrusted with a truth, a power, a hint of what was to come. She did not stand on a street corner and declare the message. She didn’t start a blog or expect special treatment. She didn’t go to the governor and display her treasure. She waited. Her role was not truly expanded until after the death and resurrection of Christ.

I am entrusted with faith. I accepted the quest, the mission. But I am not so sure I have been wholly conscious of my role. Or perhaps, that full expression of my understanding as been successfully undermined by the adversaries.

I think my next foray should be covered with a backup. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” [Matthew 18:20] I need to find those partners, like the trio from Harry Potter or the Three Musketeers or even, the three disciples who knew Jesus the best.

It’s a journey all right and it’s a journey that is best taken together.

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