In the last five years, I have left two well-paying, relatively secure jobs, opting instead to launch out into the world and see where I landed. Both times, it was scary. I didn’t know where my income was going to come from and I have a daughter, a mortgage, and other responsibilities.
Looking back, those were risky moves, but ones, I also think I had to make.
I remember talking to my dad and mom on both occasions, asking for some wisdom, some guidance. I don’t know how they really felt, their mid-40s son starting again and again, but they were very supportive and thought I should make the move.
It was great to know they believed in me. But what was even more comforting was something my dad said, both times, I think. He told me, something to the effect, “Don’t worry, we’re not going to let you lose your house or end up on the street.” To be honest, I never really thought that they would, but somehow him reminding me of that was very comforting.
Now, he didn’t start sending me a weekly support check. I had to work and scratch and figure things out, but just knowing they had my back was a serious jolt of confidence.
Jude is a tough book. He has painted a picture of the church that is not too great: leadership that is exploitative and greedy, hidden agendas and corruption, apathetic members. His book is a rallying cry for Christians to get off their backsides and get engaged in all this huge mess. In fact, he was so concerned about it that he said he needed to talk to them about this instead of getting into “the salvation we share” (Jude 3). That sounds important.
It is a hugely important, hugely difficult task. And I totally get it if people don’t want to get involved, don’t want to take the risk. After all, it’s the guy rocking the boat that sometimes turns the whole thing over and makes an even bigger mess of things. And who wants a bigger mess?
And that’s why I think Jude, to wrap things up, wants to remind his readers that, at the end of the day, Jesus has their backs. And he’s not going to let them fail. Here’s how jude puts it in verses 24 and 25:
To him who is able to keep you from falling. He’s not going to let you lose your house or end up in the homeless shelter, basically.
It is super-easy to think that the church is our responsibility. Well, it is, in a way. And we have to be engaged. But it really belongs to Jesus and he is not going to let careless leaders, or you or me, mess it up. That’s a huge relief in my mind. That gives me the freedom to at least try to make a difference, to try to fix things.
Most of us are so afraid to fail that we don’t even try. Well, when it comes to Jesus and his church, you can try, and you can fail, and you know what? It’ll all be ok.
It can be easy to get discouraged when our church is a complete mess: runaway leadership, apathetic members. But there is always good news: we can trust Jesus to keep us from failing when we try to make things right. Even if we fail in our efforts, he never fails. He will present us in “his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.” We can’t mess up the church, not really. It’s not ours to begin with.