There Will Be Scoffers
The other day I noticed a friend of mine had shared a picture on Facebook of a well known scientist who also declares himself to be an atheist suggesting that Jesus wouldn’t condone a particular political viewpoint. I had to laugh and shake my head wondering why anyone would have any confidence in the opinion of a man who probably doesn’t even believe Jesus really existed.
And yet, our world is full of those who find the last acceptable group worthy of prejudice, we religious believers, deserve to be made fun of, dismissed as antiquated followers of a discredited belief, and actually legislated against, all because our worldview makes their worldview evil! And yet, hard as they may try, and have tried for centuries, they can’t seem to extinguish this persistent belief that there is objective Truth and this Truth is a Person. They are so desperate to be god themselves, they have to fight God so they can be god. It’s an old war.
Just look at our Lesson today in 1 Jude 1:11-25:
Beloved, woe to the ungodly, for they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error, and perish in Korah’s rebellion. These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they boldly carouse together, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, carried along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars for whom the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for ever.
It was of these also that Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness which they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own passions, loud-mouthed boasters, flattering people to gain advantage.
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And convince some, who doubt; save some, by snatching them out of the fire; on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.
St. Jude continues our education about the perennial war between the “ungodly” and themselves. Yes, you read that correct. There is no war against God. How foolish. God is no one’s enemy, though there are many who are His enemy, at least in their own minds. Actually they war against themselves. That’s the war that has been raging since the Garden of Eden. And God, Who did not start this fight, will end it!
Look at how Jude describes these foolish people: They walk in the way of Cain. This way is the way that led Cain to destruction. The path that only focuses on me rather than the humble willingness to follow timeless wisdom. They “abandon themselves” (isn’t that a wonderful way to say that?) to Balaam’s error. This is the error that led the prophet Balaam to accept money to prophesy against the People of God in the First Testament. They “perish in Korah’s rebellion. Korah rebelled against Moses’ authority in the First Testament along with 249 co-conspirators and was consumed by fire! St. Jude goes on to describe these people as “blemishes on your love feasts” (referring to the Eucharistic assembly), waterless clouds, fruitless trees, wild waves, and so on. All to show that their rebellion against wisdom is empty and self destructive, but brings no lasting harm to God or His plan for humanity!
Jude reminds the believers that this was all foretold. Scoffers would be where ever the Faith was practiced. And the natural result of these scoffers would be division, empty lives, and undisciplined passions. And the only response to these scoffers isn’t argument, but a focus on our own spiritual discipline through prayer and growing in our love for God. That is the only response that can ever hope to turn a scoffer away from his self destruction towards God’s mercy!
Today, are you discouraged by the folks who make fun of people of faith? Or do you get angry when your faith is attacked? Don’t. It doesn’t help and only sinks you into the very mud that traps these misguided people. No, respond with tears of compassion and a redoubling of your focused discipline in the faith and you will show these people how to be Orthodox on purpose!