Don't look now...
Don't look now but it appears certain persons have crept in unnoticed. Yikes! It's a bit unnerving to think of people creeping around trying to blend in and go unnoticed. They appear good but are up to no good. We hear about such people all the time on the nightly news. Friends and family shocked when they find out what the "creepers" been up to.
Recently, we traveled to small-town Illinois to go to the fair and attend some dirt track races. As we walked up and down the midway, it was such a blessing to see so many families out enjoying the food, rides, races, and near-perfect weather. Children were running ahead of and lagging behind their parents. Groups of teens were enjoying not being with their parents.
Oddly, I kept thinking these children and teens were easy prey. These same thoughts flooded my mind this weekend as we gathered in with other families to watch sprint car races in central Pennsylvania. Adults fixed on the races while kids were running around and teens enjoyed a night out together. Easy prey.
One evening after a late night of racing, my husband and I decided to go for a middle of the night breakfast! Something we used to do all the time in our younger days. Sitting in a diner at 2 AM we wondered who we were and why in the world we were eating breakfast rather than sleeping when I noticed several groups of teens sitting in the diner with us. It appeared they had been to a dance or function as they were all dressed up and had corsages. The majority of the teens were girls, but there were a couple of guys. So cute, young and possibly unaware of the dangers that could be facing them at 2 AM. Easy prey.
I normally don't walk around with this mindset. I'm usually in the moment and unaware of my own surroundings. I don't look for or expect to find "creepy" people lurking around. That's exactly my point in writing this blog. Furthermore, I certainly don't expect to find "creepers" in church or among those who call themselves Christians. Until I started reading the book of Jude.
Y'all...certain persons have crept into the church and into Christian circles unnoticed. These are bad, bad people. How is this possible? Well, they talk the talk, but they don't actually walk the talk. In fact, according to the book of Jude, they aren't Christians at all but, because they can talk the talk, they fit right in - unnoticed. And guess what? They don't look creepy. How concerning is that?
Here is how Jude describes them and how we can recognize them:
- They use the grace of God as a license to sin. Especially when it comes to sex and money.
- They are like
- Clouds without water carried along by winds or like autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead.
- Wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam.
- Wandering stars for whom shameless darkness has been reserved forever
- They are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts, speak arrogantly, flattering people to gain an advantage, cause divisions, are worldly-minded.
- They are devoid of the Spirit.
- These people deny Jesus as Lord and want others to do the same.
Here's the thing...don't expect them to verbally deny Jesus as Lord. No, they won't do that, and they won't get others to do that. What they do and encourage others to do is to deny Jesus by their behavior. They deny God's word especially when it comes to sex and money. They encourage others to do the same. How many churches do you think have been divided over issues regarding sex and money? Far too many. Here's another thing...if you and I don't know what God says in His word for ourselves we are at great risk. Our faith is at great risk. The faith of the next generation is at risk.
Remember, they have crept in unnoticed. Why they could be excellent communicators, charming, funny, smart, a leader followed by many, relatable, helpful, look good, and by all outward appearances be an awesome spiritual mentor. But, they are devoid of the Spirit.
Okay, now look. Do you see them? Can you identify them?
If you and I do not know God's Word, we cannot earnestly contend for the faith. Plus, these "certain persons" are believable and have the influence and potential to cause doubt, division and many will stumble and will be in need of being snatched from the fire. They do this by picking and choosing what in God's word is truth and what was is no longer relevant for today - especially when it comes to sex and money. This is called relativism and its crept into the church unnoticed. How is the possible? As I sit this morning and ponder all this, there can only be two explanations:
1. We don't know what God's word says for ourselves, so we don't know the difference.
2. Or, we know the difference and yet choose not to contend earnestly for the faith (conviction of truth).
I don't mean to sound harsh, but there is no way that we could have gone from a Christian society to a post-Christian society if we'd all been fighting earnestly for the faith (conviction of truth).
So, does this mean we are to roll up our sleeves and duke it out with those in our churches who preach another gospel or use grace as a license to sin - especially when it comes to sex and money? Are we to scream and holler during church business meetings? Are we to call out on social media all those we believe have crept into the church? Actually, here's what Jude says we are to do:
"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."
If ever there were a time for us to be getting serious about knowing God's word for ourselves it is certainly now. May we build ourselves up in our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit and keeping ourselves in the love of God. If we do these things, contending earnestly for the faith will the natural outcome. We will be merciful, loving, joyful and passionate contenders that might look like Faith and Football.
If you want to learn how to dig out truths from God's word for yourself, message me. I'd be happy to help you. I can also pass along two books that you might want to add to your library. Pray asking the Lord to give you desire and hunger to know Him and His ways through His word and keep praying. He will answer that prayer, and soon, you'll be able to contend earnestly for the faith!
Women of the Word by Jen Wilkins
Living by the Book, The Art and Science of Reading the Bible by Howard G. Hendricks and Willaim D. Hendricks