Monday, August 28, 2023

But You II

 The four steps Jude outlines are not mutually exclusive of each other. For them to offer the protection, peace, and fulfillment they are intended to, they must be done in tandem. You can’t build yourself up in your most holy faith while ignoring the other three. They are symbiotic and interdependent of each other, working together to make a complete believer who, although buffeted by deception and deceivers, persecution and hardship, can endure and do so joyfully.

If you have no prayer life, then you can’t hope to build your faith. If you have no faith, you can’t expect to keep yourself in the love of God. If you have no faith, no prayer life, and are absent the love of God, then looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life is as impossible as breathing underwater without a scuba tank.

The second thing Jude encourages the faithful to do is pray in the Holy Spirit. And here’s where we happen upon our first hurdle because while Jude is writing to those who were called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ to pray in the Holy Spirit, many who claim to have been called, sanctified, and preserved deny the presence of the Holy Spirit as being for today, altogether.

Whenever you bring up the topic of the person of the Holy Spirit in certain circles, you’re sure to hear at least one person declare that He’s not around anymore, it was only for a brief time, then He got bored, and so went on a walkabout in the cosmos or some such thing.

John 14:16-18, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

Even with the constant redefining of words in our day, you’d be hard-pressed to make the word forever mean for a limited time only. It’s not for lack of trying on some people’s part, but Jesus said forever, and I believe Jesus over men, no matter how many accolades they’ve amassed or how well respected they are.

Jesus promised He would not leave us orphans and that the Helper, the Spirit of truth, would be the vehicle by which He would keep this promise, yet here we are, two thousand years later, insisting that what He said couldn’t possibly be true, because we read it differently.

If we deny the active presence of the Holy Spirit, the selfsame Holy Spirit Jesus said would keep us from being orphans, are we not, in point of fact, orphans? This is a simple question, but disturbing nonetheless, given the number of people who insist that the work of the Holy Spirit is no longer for today.

It’s in putting the pieces of this puzzle together that we begin to understand the reason why the modern-day church is in the condition it’s in. It’s no accident that an entire generation knows nothing of life, hope, joy, peace, or the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It’s no accident that fully grown adults need mantras, incantations, visualization, and positive affirmations just to get through the day.

They’re denouncing the one thing that makes the difference between having an indwelling and abiding hope and going through the motions and faking it until they make it.

The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is the one thing Jesus said the world cannot receive because they neither see Him nor know Him. Both believers and unbelievers can obtain fame, both the godly and the ungodly can obtain fortune, both those of the world and those of the church can climb the corporate ladder, but what sets those who belong to Christ apart from those who are yet of the world is the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Read the verses and tell me where I’m wrong or if there is any other way of interpreting them. Don’t tell me what a denomination’s stance is on the matter or what some Pastor’s stance is on it. Read the text and tell me there’s another way of understanding it. I’m not trying to pick a fight or be unduly antagonistic, but this is a hill I’m willing to die on if need be because they are the words of Jesus, and He repeats them not two chapters later in the gospel, according to John.

Another way of looking at Jude’s instruction is that each practice he highlights is like the leg of a chair. For you to rest comfortably upon it, a chair must possess four legs. A chair with only three or two legs will wobble, and you will never rest fully upon it.

I’m what the old Montgomery Ward’s catalog called husky build once upon a time. Unlike the delusional folks who’ve latched upon body positivity as though it were a box of free donuts, I understand that being of the husky variety, I can’t just throw myself into any old chair and expect it to hold me.

Before you get the funnies, no, I’ve never sat in a chair and broken it, but that’s because I always ease into them, especially the plastic picnic chairs most every family has that get baked in the sun season after season.

I’ve sat in my fair share of those and was never entirely comfortable. I try to sit as still as possible, not moving, not shifting my weight, because the risk is high that a leg would snap and I’d go tumbling rear over tea kettle to the stirring laughter of all present.

Jude tells us that the second of four legs that will allow you to rest in the promises of God is praying in the Holy Spirit. Couple that with Jesus saying that the Holy Spirit is the Helper who will abide with us forever, not only dwelling with us but dwelling in us, and I reckon a good chunk of the contemporary church needs to reassess its theology.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

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