Formations lesson for April 24: Speaking of Persecution : Friday, April 8, 2005
April 8 2005 by Julia S. Ledford

Formations lesson for April 24: Speaking of Persecution : Friday, April 8, 2005
Friday, April 8, 2005

Formations lesson for April 24: Speaking of Persecution

By Julia S. Ledford
Focal Passage: Jude 17-23

Well, I have arrived! I am old enough now to recount stories that young people find hard to believe. Some cannot imagine being required to memorize scripture in public school or that a traveling Bible teacher led a program once a month in our school auditorium in which we were encouraged to memorize scripture for prizes. Some of that memorization has remained and Psalm 1 came to mind as an Old Testament companion to this lesson.

Seat of Scoffers

Jude 17-19

The Psalmist wrote the first Psalm to counteract a perennial problem, one that Jude saw people facing even in the early days of the church. The psalmist had advised: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers" (RSV).

There always seem to be enough scoffers to discourage faith. Jude's words indicate the problem had become severe enough that some people were wavering in their commitment to follow Christ. They were turning away from the true faith by listening to people who were worldly and without the Spirit of God.

We face similar temptations today, though we may not struggle against severe persecution as they did. We are deluged with a constant barrage of ideas and concepts that arise from people who have not opened their lives to the Spirit of Christ and are encouraging others to accept worldly perceptions and pursuits.

Positive Action

Jude 20-21

Jude, like the psalmist, recommended some active choices that will keep us on the right track. As the psalmist said, we need to watch where we walk, stand and sit. We must be cautious about where we go and who gives us counsel.

Jude advised the people to take positive action to grow in the holy faith they had first accepted. He offered prayer as the first line of defense and reminded them that the Holy Spirit was a partner with them in prayer. Jude also called for a focus on the love of God and for reverent anticipation of God's mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ. The love of God and assurance of eternal life provide substantial hope in the face of life's challenges.

The psalmist had recommended taking delight in the law of the Lord. Similarly, Jude had counseled the believers (v.17) to hold the predictions of the apostles as sure words of truth.

The truth of God's word provides a powerful line of defense against error and keeps us standing firm against all that would draw us away from the Lord. Prayer and Bible study, verified in community, are essential foundations for building strong faith and combating error. As Bible drill proponents would agree, scripture memorization makes the foundation stronger.

Caution!

Jude 22-23

Jude was alarmed that people were unsteady in their faith. He grieved over division in the church. His heart was heavy with concern and he urged others to join him in the challenge to pull people back to true faith. He called for believers to look with compassion on people who were wavering, rather than being judgmental. He viewed the struggle as if he were snatching folks from some danger like a fire. We need to be aroused to similar concerns today.

He wanted believers to guard their faith from contamination. In his warning against touching even a tunic worn by a scoffer, he may have had in mind the Jewish fear of being defiled in God's sight by touching anyone or anything that was impure. Jude was keenly aware that people are easily led astray to impurity.

We need to heed these warnings and avoid putting ourselves or our churches in position to be influenced away from Christ.

4/8/2005 12:00:00 AM by Julia S. Ledford | with 0 comments




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