An Odd Mandate

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Last week Jude told us we have a responsibility. Jude told us very simply to keep ourselves in the love of God and we saw that is an intentional, consistent pursuit of Christ. There is no tomorrow. It is a personal responsibility that cannot be transferred to another. Others can and should help us, but the responsibility rests on each of us. Adding to the responsibility to, “Keep yourselves in the love of God,” Jude tells us to do something else in v. 21b. In the second half of verse Jude 21 he says, “Waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.”

It’s another straight forward command yet seems a bit odd. Jude begins by telling us to, “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” Then he says we are to be, “Waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” “Waiting anxiously for” seems to be an oxymoron, but in the original Greek it is one word. Jude tells us to play the game none of us wants to play. It is the waiting game. You’ve heard people say, “I have no patience for that.” We even hear this in the church. Particularly when seeking someone to serve in the nursery or some other aspect of dealing with children. In Gal. 5:22-23 Paul emphatically says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” As children of God, Paul is saying we have these qualities. In the context of Gal. 5, Paul is contrasting the flesh with the Spirit. His conclusion is that, “Those that belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires.” Some of us are better at waiting than other people. Some people are extraordinarily patient, but the expectation is that every Christian is supposed to be patient. One way that we grow and develop these qualities is to, “Keep ourselves in the love of God.” Again, it is a consistent, intentional process.

What are we waiting anxiously for? The word waiting is eschatological. It points to the end times and is sometimes translated looking. We see this idea of waiting  from others in Scripture too.

Mark 15:43, “Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.”
Luke 2:25, “And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”
Luke 2:37-38 referring to Anna, “And then as a widow to the age of eighty four, she never left the temple, serving day and night with fastings and prayer. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Titus 2:13, “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”

We wait just as the saints of old waited.

So what are we waiting anxiously for, with eager anticipation for? Jude says we wait for the, “Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” Back in v. 2 Jude prayed that his readers would have, “Mercy and peace multiplied” to them. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Our children sometimes beg for mercy. Criminals will throw themselves on the mercy of the court. Often when it comes to us, we want mercy and not justice. 2 Cor. 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”   Jude wants us to wait for God’s mercy and that mercy will not be fully realized until Christ’s return. God is merciful to His children and He’s merciful to those that curse Him. Matt. 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

We wait until Jesus returns. How can we wait, how can we finish well? As I mentioned earlier, waiting is not a game many of play well. Sometimes our impatience manifests itself in prayer. We’ve prayed for something and we don’t get the answer, or don’t get the answer we want and for some reason that causes us to doubt. Jude taught that we are to keep ourselves in the love of God. We must remain in the love of God until the end, until Jesus returns or until we die. There is no quitting, no giving up, no giving in. We fight the good fight. We finish the course. We keep the faith.

Jude, among others, didn’t believe that we would achieve a state of perfection in this world. We look forward to the mercy of God because we will need it when we stand before Him. We maintain ourselves in God’s love to minimize the influence and corruption of the world. As we’ll see in the coming verses, authentic believers cannot remain in God’s love and be immersed in the world. If you don’t keep your eyes on God and eternity, you’ll find yourself slowly slipping away. If Jesus truly lives in your heart, there should be a hunger, a passion, a supernatural desire and ability to follow Him.

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