For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you.
Jude 1:4a (NIV)
Wendy and I recently spent the evening with a young couple, enjoying a leisurely dinner followed by casual conversation. Among the many topics of our conversation that evening was the current state of culture and discourse in our world. A repeated phrase I heard that evening was, to paraphrase, “if only people would just be kind to others.”
Wendy and I later discussed this simple sentiment and the fact that no matter how much we desire such an elementary and obvious expectation of others, there have always been those who will not do so. There have always been those whose blind self-centered and self-gratifying nature mark them, as Scott Peck named them, “people of the lie.”
Today’s chapter is an oft-forgotten one-hit-wonder stuck in at the end of the Great Story. Jude is most likely the half-brother of Jesus and brother of James, leader of the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem. He pens this quick letter warning to fellow believers about “people of the lie” who had been worshipping among followers of Jesus. In modern terms, the Urban Dictionary’s definition of “poser” might just be an apt moniker.
In those days, there were no church buildings. Followers of Jesus met together regularly in people’s homes. Their potluck meals doubled as opportunities to worship, meet the needs of one another, and would end with the sacrament of communion. Jesus’ followers called them “Love Feasts.” These people of the lie would join the fellowship, eat and drink to excess, take advantage of generosity, and then claim that if Jesus’ grace increases to cover a multitude of sins, then it would only make sense to sin more so that there would be more of Jesus’ grace produced.
The thing that I found fascinating as I read Jude’s warnings about these people of the lie is that he starts by providing historic examples of such characters from the Great Story: Cain, Balaam, and Korah.
He then provides metaphorical descriptions of the posers who had infiltrated the Love Feasts of the believers to whom he was penning the letter:
- Shepherds who feed only themselves (not their sheep)
- Clouds without rain
- Autumn trees with no fruit
- Untamed, wild waves of the sea
- Wandering stars getting sucked into a Black Hole
Jude then ends with the “apostles” warning that in “the last times” these people of the lie would be everywhere, scoffing at Truth, following their base appetites, and creating division among believers.
In other words, people of the lie have always been around, they were present among Jude and his contemporaries, and they will still be around in the end times.
I couldn’t help but notice that Jude’s antidote to the “people of the lie” problem was not to create an inquisitorial committee to root out the evil. The answer was not to find these people, hold a trial, and hang those found guilty. The things Jude admonished his fellow believers to do were intensely personal:
- Keep exercising and building up your own faith
- Keep praying in the Spirit
- Keep yourself in God’s love
- Be patient
- Wait for Jesus’ mercy
- Be merciful to others
- Save others through mercy and respect
- Keep your own nose clean
So in the quiet this morning, I find myself circling back to our young friends’ sincere desire for “everyone to just be kind to one another” and balancing it with Jude’s observation that people of the lie have always been a part of the mix in this world, they are part of the mix now, and they will likely be an even bigger part of the mix when history reaches the final, climactic chapters of the Great Story. This is a reality that I must always consider as I look around me and try to interpret the signs of the times.
As for me, I’m just going to continue to press on in faith, hope, and love; Just another wayfaring stranger making my way home.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.