While driving through mountain roads, it is not uncommon to turn a bend and see not only beautiful vistas but also guard rails and warning signs. At these heights, one wrong turn or inattentive moment could be disastrous. As our study moves into the book of Jude, we have a similar set of cautions.
Jude begins with a moving affirmation of our Christian identity. We are “those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ” (v. 1). The description aptly fits the journey of the Christian life. We are called into relationship with God, we are loved throughout our lives, and we are kept safe by Jesus until the end. God’s wonderful gifts of “mercy, peace and love” belong to us “in abundance” (v. 2).
Jude would have preferred to continue writing about “the salvation we share” (v. 3); yet, other matters pressed him in a different direction. The church faced great danger, even within their own community, and Jude wrote to warn them to be attentive and “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (v. 3).
The primary danger was that certain ungodly individuals had “slipped in among you” (v. 4a). They had taken the beautiful message of God’s grace and perverted it into “a license for immorality.” Moreover, they “deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (v. 4b). Cheap grace and a denigration of Christ’s lordship are the twin concerns of Jude.
Today’s reading ends with stern reminders from history about the fate of such people. The unbelieving Israelites, the fallen angels, and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah all serve as warnings of those who rejected God’s grace. The results were disastrous for them all.