Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
— Jude 1:4
Although Christianity is considered a religion today, it began as its very opposite—a rebellion against the (Hebrew) religion of the time, mired as it was in rules, laws, exclusive ceremony, confusing language and judgment of the poorer classes by those holding power, i.e. the ones fawning to Rome. Jesus was seen as the messiah by many as his message was one the working classes could get behind, giving them a degree of autonomy, and a sense of hope for a better future beyond the bleak oppression they could only look forward to under the current system. It was the sheer size of the peasant classes, oppressed by the wealthy/powerful majority that allowed the Jesus movement to explode as it did, bringing many sympathetic supporters along with it, as do most revolutions. But bringing also the chancers and seekers of power in the new order. It is these men that Jude warns against.
After the rather dry, creedal letters of Peter and John, the colourful, poetic language of Jude comes as a welcome relief. Still urging new Christians to keep the faith, and directing them how, Jude draws more on stories from their shared past to illustrate his point, for example,
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.1
Beware those men who will use this movement to get ahead, to rule over you, to pull you away from the true path and into their own quagmire of sin, purely to uphold their own power. We have preachers like this still today, of course. Many have been exposed as frauds and evildoers,2 many more continue to practice either unidentified yet, or perhaps worse, endorsed by both church authorities and congregations.3
Christianity is faith, not religion. It started that way, and at its heart it remains that way. It is faith in a better, fairer tomorrow. The trappings of religion thrown on top of its core ideas since Rome claimed it for their own in 325 AD have only served to corrupt it. Jude is warning his brethren about that happening. It happened anyway. It is still happening.
1 Jude 1:11
2 E.g. 10 Evangelist Preachers Who Fell From Grace by Lee Price, Listverse 16/01/2015
3 Jon Kuhrt covers the topic of church endorsement/denial of sin in his Grace+Truth blog, e.g. I am kind of a big deal, A tale of two vicars, The line separating good and evil