Integrity of faith, life and scripture
"... keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear..." Jude 21-3
Another brother of Jesus who exercised authority in the original church is Jude. Like James, the impression given is that Jude is where he is not because of his being the half-brother of Jesus but because he understands the universal brother- (and sister-) hood of the wider family of faith. While stressing God's grace as the primary source of power in the believer's life, he also insists on the fruit of faithful living as evidence of those who may be trusted as fellow believers. And he warns of the destructive influence of those who claim to be operating as children of God but are false teachers, whose own destruction awaits.
Yet Jude's concern is not to go around condemning others but, as the verse above confirms, he is motivated by a pastoral concern for the spiritual health and ultimate salvation of what, at the time, must have felt like a fragile and vulnerable community of faith. As such, Jude may speak powerfully and inspirationally into the predicament of many Christians and churches today! Both James and Jude were, like Jesus, steeped in their Jewish inheritance and in particular in the scriptures of what we now refer to as the Old Testament. In his book 'The Jewish teachers of Jesus, James and Jude...' David DeSilva explains:
"The distinctiveness of James and Jude's teaching lies principally in their commitment to their half brother (Jesus) as God's eschatological agent, who taught the way of God accurately, whose teaching they are committed to handing on, who continues to exercise lordship over the people of God gathered in his name, and who will yet appear to fulfil all that was expected of the Son of Man."
Jesus, James and Jude were shaped by the scriptures of the Old Testament. Are we as attentive to, and appreciative of, this first half of our Bibles?