Jude 1:20-23a - But 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 ....
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
Did your mom or dad ever say something like this to you? "I don't care if everyone else is doing it. You're not like everyone else." Parents say this sort of thing when they notice how the culture in which they live is out of step with what they value. The culture is somehow at odds with the way of life they want to pass on to their children. So, they say things like, "That may be how other people behave, but you're not like other people. You're special. You're different. You have a different story."
That's the tone of this short, New Testament letter of Jude. The people to whom Jude is writing are special. They have a different story. They are people called out of the world, as Jude says, "beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ" (Jude 1:1b). Jude wrote to followers of Jesus living in the Roman Empire. And like us, Jesus' followers today, they were living in a culture that was out of step with the story they shared in Jesus. Some of the out-of-step behaviors Jude mentions are things like "relying on their dreams" (Jude 1:8b), rejecting authority, sexual immorality, grumbling, boasting, and showing favoritism (see Jude 1:8-16). Jude tells you and me: that's not how we behave in our family. You are special. You're different. You have a different story.
It's not just that you and I have different customs. Don't think of Jesus as a distant ancestor who wants you to hold onto a strange, ancient culture for its own sake. Jesus is the Creator of the universe. He is the Source of all life. All cultures and all families reflect some of His goodness. At the same time, all cultures and families are a hazard unto themselves. Like a building with bad wiring, they're a disaster waiting to happen. You and I have been adopted into Jesus' family; we are saved from that disaster, pulled out of the fire. And now, fire-proofed by faith, we are sent back into our cultures. We are learning to be different. We're different like a firefighter is different from a victim in a burning building. We live differently in Jesus' family—not by stubbornly holding on to old customs—we live to pull people out of the fire.
If you were anything like me, living as a teenager in your parents' home, then there were times when you said, "Why? Why is our family different?" Maybe your parents gave you a good answer. Or maybe not. The earliest followers of Jesus had a clear reason for their way of living. It wasn't to preserve an ethnic heritage. It wasn't for fear of change. It wasn't to be separate from other people. They lived to show and tell people about Jesus, because He pulled them out of the fire, that is, out of their separation from God. He adopted them into a family with a mission to save others. And the same is true for you. That's why you're special. That's why you're different. You have a different story.
THE PRAYER: Jesus, help us, Your fire-proofed family, to carry on Your mission to save all people. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. Did your parents ever tell you, "Don't be like everyone else"? What was the context?
2. Read Jude's letter. How have you been tempted to "deny Jesus" (v. 4) by your behavior?
3. In places, Jude's letter sounds harsh. Why do you think he ended as he did (v. 20-25)?
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