1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,
To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
(Jude vv. 1-2 NIV)
As we begin our walk through the “book” of Jude, we are reminded that Jude’s writing is not a book, but a letter. Today, we will take a look at Jude’s greeting in verses 1-2.
Jude begins by introducing himself through his relationship to the Lord and to his better-known brother James, the leader of the Jerusalem Council. Notice that Jude does not play the “Jesus is my brother” card. Instead, Jude puts himself under Jesus’ authority as his Savior and Lord, calling himself a servant of Jesus Christ.
Jude then addresses his intended audience – other followers of Jesus Christ. From a historical point of view, Jude was likely living in Jerusalem and was writing to both Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus.
In the second half of verse 1, as Jude addresses his readers, he also reminds them of their relationship with Jesus – they are called, loved, and kept.
While Jude’s letter was addressed to the people of his time, his teaching applies to us as well. Let’s take a look at each of these connectors with Jesus.
First, Jude reminds us that we were called. For the record, we are not going to debate the whole “predestination vs. free will” topic in this space. Entire books have been written about these two points of view. In our limited human understanding, we often see these two points of view as polar opposites. What if God shows us that instead of an “either-or”, it is really a “both-and”, where predestination and free will are really two sides of the same coin? When we get to heaven, the Lord will explain these truths to us, and we will be able to understand His grand design and purpose.
The main thing to take away from Jude’s teaching that we were called is that God initiates the relationship with us. We never “find God”; rather, He calls us, and we respond. If we are followers of Christ, we have responded to His calling in the past. If anyone is not a follower of Christ, then He still calls to that person and eagerly awaits their response.
Second, Jude reminds us that we are loved. While our calling to Christ happened in the past (if we are now followers of Christ), the Father’s love is from the past, in the present, and promised for the future. God’s love is everlasting, from eternity past to the present to eternity future. Jude’s emphasis is on the present reality of God’s love for us.
Third, Jude reminds us that we are kept. God does not grant us salvation, then turn us loose to figure out life on our own. The idea here is that God watches over us, not as a stern disciplinarian, but as a loving Father watching out for and protecting His children. And even though we live in this broken world where bad things happen, God promises to watch over us and redeem even the bad things for His glory and our good.
God’s “keeping” is in the present, with an eye to the future. We are kept for Jesus, for the day that He returns to redeem His own, for those who follow Him.
So what does Jude have to say to those who are called, loved, and kept? He offers them nothing less than the hospitality of Christ Himself:
Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
(Jude 2 NIV)
God’s mercy is expressed to us by not giving us the punishment we deserved by our disobedience to Him.
God’s peace brings a renewed sense of unity to our relationships – both with God and with others. God’s peace is a blessing offered to us and over us, for both our being and our well-being.
God’s love is unconditional toward us, demonstrated by offering HIs own Son as payment for our sins. And as we allow ourselves to be loved by God, we can then love others as He loves us.
Finally, Jude offers us what God has given him – mercy, peace, and love – not in scarcity, not in mere adequacy, but rather, in abundance. The word used here means to multiply.
God’s abundance is not a fraction or percentage, nor an addition. Instead, it is multiplication, demonstrating His overwhelming care for us and His desire for a deep and abiding relationship with us.
May we experience His abundant mercy, peace, and love today.
And from His abundance, may we offer abundant mercy, peace, and love to others.