A Kept Love

24 Feb

Book of LoveYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week Jude offered another contrast to the creepers. We’re to build ourselves up on our holy faith. The construction of our faith is our responsibility. Others can and should help, but we need to be actively engaged in this process. Adding to the responsibility of building our faith, Jude tells us to do something else in v. 21a.

In Jude 21a he says, “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” It’s a straight forward command. We’re all familiar with commands. We see signs that say, “Keep Out.” Often our children put those signs on their bedroom door with the hope that everyone will obey the command. Beware of the dog. Road work ahead. These commands are expected to be heeded.

Jude says, “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” We all know that God is love. 1 Jo. 4:7-8 reminds us to, “Love one another, for love is from God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” We hear that trumpeted everywhere by lost people and by Christians. People use God’s love as an anthem or mantra to excuse all sorts of things because God is love above all else. This is the all encompassing rationale to conclude that judgmental statements are inconsistent with God’s love. This represents a false dichotomy. In other words, if you say that something is wrong or inconsistent with Scripture, the only conclusion that can be made is that it’s not loving to make judgments. Now hold on just a minute. If you tell someone something is wrong or sinful, that some particular behavior, thought or attitude is wrong, couldn’t that mean that you actually do love them enough to tell them the truth? If you’re willing to risk being labeled, being hated, or being defined as intolerant because you point something out, doesn’t that mean you’re willing to lay aside your personal comfort and well being for the well being of another?

So what’s a guy to do? How can we abide in Christ and be a light to a lost and dying world without being labeled as a hater, or intolerant, or a bigot, or whatever else people like to call us? You can’t so quit trying! We demonstrate our love for Christ by being willing to lay ourselves out for something that is worth dying for. Didn’t Jesus say, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (Jo. 15:13) Our society says that unless you agree with something, then you’re being intolerant. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 Jo. 5:3) This doesn’t mean you have been appointed as a de facto Holy Spirit. Judgment without love is harsh. Love without correction is not love. “For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” (Pro. 3:12) When people say it’s not loving to judge, they don’t know the Scriptures. They say they’re entitled to live any way they want and it doesn’t matter because God is love. We live in a world of faith that has values and standards, and those values and standards have to be guarded by men with Bibles. Who’s gonna do it? You? Or someone else? We have a greater responsibility than people can possibly fathom. God weeps for humanity and society curses Christians. They have that luxury. They have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That a life devoted to Christ saves lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to society, saves lives. They don’t want the truth because deep down in places they won’t talk about at parties, they want me to tell the truth, they need me to tell the truth. We use words like faith, trust, perseverance. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. They use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that God provides, and then questions the manner in which He provides it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, otherwise, I suggest you pick up a Bible, study it and live it out. Either way, I don’t care what you think you are entitled to.

It really is a seemingly straight forward command. Jude says, “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” It’s a simple command, but it’s not so simple to understand. Is Jude saying that we should maintain our love for God? Is he saying keep yourselves in a place where you can experience God’s love for yourself? It’s not an either or scenario. The only way we can love is because God first loved us. If you remember way back to v. 1 Jude said he was writing to, “Those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ.” In this verse the emphasis is on God’s love for us; the love by which He called us. With that in mind, it’s extraordinary that Jude would now say the responsibility rests squarely on our shoulders. We’re to keep ourselves in God’s love. How do we do that? Is it through church programs? Is it the responsibility of church leaders? We keep ourselves in the love of God by abiding in the fundamental principles of Scripture. It’s not something you do once in a while, or weekly. It’s a consistent, continual process.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with numerous people undergoing trials and tribulations. What I’ve found without exception, is that people that are consistently in church, consistently in the Word, consistently in prayer, consistently surrounding themselves with other Christians are going to have a far easier time getting through it. I didn’t say easy, I said easier. The walk of faith is rarely an easy one. I assure you that nothing that happens in your life or mine did not pass through God’s loving fingers. Nothing has escaped God’s notice. We keep ourselves in the love of God by being reminded of His promises, His guarantees, His care, His concern, His incredible love, His mercy, and His grace. We keep ourselves in the love of God by remembering who He is and what He did for us. You who never have studied the Scriptures for yourself, you who haven’t walked with God for years, you who aren’t willing to spend the time, effort or hard work to persevere for the faith, you who deny the authenticity of Scripture, you who aren’t willing to lay yourself out, you who aren’t willing to raise a hand for Jesus, you who scoff at people that are passionately following Christ, you who think the world and the church exists to serve you, who are you to tell me about my Jesus? Who are you to tell me what He’s like when you’ve spent no time with Him or His people? Who are you to tell me?

Keeping ourselves in the love of God is essential in our daily walk of faith. It must be an intentional, consistent pursuit of Christ. If you find it difficult to pursue Christ in the good times, how in the world are you going to trust in the difficult times? I’ve grown so weary of people that are content where they are, that are content to remain where they are in faith and then will abandon God when the littlest trial comes. Either He’s worth following or He’s not, get off the fence. You can’ have it both ways.

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