Failing Through the Cracks
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Last week I wrote a post about the Cracks in the Church based on some initial study of the book of Jude. The group of men that I meet with on Wednesday nights has just completed our second week of studying that book. Our first week was spent just reading the book every day for a week and this week’s assignment was to research the background on this epistle from Jude.
Based on this part of the study I wanted to add to my thoughts on how false teachers can sneak into a church unnoticed. I want you to think on these things:
- The letter was written around 68-70 AD.
- It was most likely written to a predominantly Jewish audience.
That may not seem like much in the way of earth-shattering news but consider that 68-70 AD was a time of great strife in the lives of the Jews and especially Jewish Christians. For hundreds of years, the children of Israel had been waiting on a Messiah that they believed would build a physical kingdom. God’s chosen people were tiring of the Roman rule that placed restrictions on their faith, taxed them beyond their means, and, in some cases, exiled portions of their population. The years of 68-70 AD were years that there was a conflict, a war, being waged between the Jewish people and Rome. Stack on top of that a famine and starvation and we have a political tender box.
Put yourself into the shoes of those Jews who had given their lives to the cause of Christ – who were looking for this new kingdom that all the apostles were preaching about. They had linked themselves to a group of fanatics that had been persecuted by the Jewish leaders for decades and who were garnering suspicions from the Roman rulers. What would it have been like to be starving, poor and doubly rejected by society from both your own race and the Gentile government?
I wonder if they felt some despair. I wonder if they started having second thoughts about this path that they had chosen that at one point they were so sure about. Maybe they started doubting like John the Baptist had when he found himself sitting in a prison. The dream of the physical kingdom was lost. The hope of a spiritual kingdom promised by the apostles was starting to look more like a mirage than an actuality. Desperation is a dangerous crack that can cause huge failings within the church body. When the focus shifts from the Author of faith and instead fixes on circumstances that appear to be too daunting to overcome, it isn’t hard to imagine people panicking and reaching for anything that will buoy them up in the raging storm waters that they find themselves in.
Even a false doctrine that offers an immediate promise of unsubstantiated hope can look like the real thing. Don’t think that is the case? Look around the faith community and consider how many people follow a health-and-wealth prosperity message that offers hope in this life to those who will take a step in faith and send in their ‘seed’ money. It is a message that looks like a gospel lottery – a buck here and a buck there will give you a chance at greater material rewards, better relationships, the removal of sickness, in short, the perfect life. Who follows this type of message? The desperate – those whose eyes have focused on the circumstances of life instead of the Author.
This is not a crack that we need to be concerned about falling through. No. It is a crack by which we need to be on guard not to fail through.
We should all consider those things that could tempt us to desperation.
Is it failing health? Or the loss of a job? Maybe it is relationships gone sour. Or a broken marriage. Maybe it’s a rebellious child.
How about you? How do you guard against the desperation that could steal your eyes from source of truth and instead fix them on a shallow replacement?