Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. – Jude 1-4
Perhaps you’ve had to be the heavy in a conversation with a family member or co-worker – though you would rather not. There are some people who thrive on being the heavy it seems. They bring challenge at every turn. They relish the idea of telling others what they should do that they are not doing. I do not like to do that. I’m much more a catch flies with honey than a drive ’em away with vinegar kind of guy.
That seems to be Jude’s approach as well. He begins with a word of grace, blessing, and assurance: they are called and loved. They are to be enriched by mercy, peace, and love. But there is, apparently, an issue that must be addressed. While he would hope simply to celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness, there was a danger lurking of which they needed to be aware.
These Christians apparently had let down their guard. People had infiltrated their fellowship and brought with them a destructive teaching that threatened the eternal wellbeing of God’s people. These false teachers were champions of cheap grace to the extreme. They not only sought to take advantage of the grace of God by sinning more (cf. Romans 6:1-4), they seemed to be championing a lifestyle of self-indulgence and sensuality that took the focus away from Jesus’ true call.
There is a danger in every age that we compromise the grace of God, making it a license for sin of various kinds. That’s why we must always look to Jesus as not only Savior, but as a manifestation of a true life of faith. In him we have grace and peace. We also have a calling to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him (Matthew 16:24-26). The promise of Jesus to those who do follow him is life – a life built on the mercy, peace and love of God.