Almost 50 years ago, in August of 1968 The Beatles released a song that was written by Paul McCartney to comfort John Lennon’s son after an affair that Lennon had with Yoko Ono. It’s a complicated endeavor to try to box a song in with a specific meaning, but the song was admittedly a product of someone’s affair. Whether “Hey Jude” seeks to affirm a specific affair can be debated. But it is an admission to the pain that results from unfaithfulness. For a song written 50 years, it has a lot in common with a 1 chapter book of the Bible by the same name from 1,950 years ago.
Jude, the second to last letter/book in the Bible is a letter for the here and now. It is addressed primarily to those who acknowledge they are beloved in God the Father and preserved and kept for Jesus Christ. But what is so strange about this particular letter is the 3rd verse suggests that he intended to write a letter about salvation but changed his mind. Instead, he writes about contending for their faith because he feared something was happening in the Church.
Jude 1:4 “Certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Sensuality is an interesting word because it describes conduct that lacks restraint, unhindered lust, improper handling of the human body. And Jude feared that 1,950 years ago people would influence the Church to pervert or misappropriate grace as a means to excuse any type of sexual conduct.
He describes a situation in which individuals (a reference to Israel) saved from the land of Egypt by Jesus or (God the Father) but later ceased to believe. He references fallen angels that gave up their identity and authority to succumb to eternal punishment. He also mentions Sodom and Gomorrah and surrounding cities that indulged in sexual immorality and pursue unnatural desires.
Why does he do all this? To let the Church know that rhetoric and loud-speaking has the power to influence as propaganda. This influence has the potential to make one forget their identity in being a follower of Jesus.
The world is getting louder and busier and everyone is listening. The problem is the Church has largely fallen behind with an answer to the sexual identity question. And when it does stumble through an answer it is divided and disjointed. The Church needs legitimate prophetic voices void of any agenda pocketed by politics.
It needs a voice of truth and gentleness, unwavering in its truth, comforting in its gentleness. It’s a stern voice for those of us that are harming ourselves with our sexual indiscretion. Fortunately, the remaining verses in the book give some words for the Church. Jude’s first reminder and comfort appeals to our identity as ones owned by Christ. His second word is urging the Church to learn to walk in the authority of that reality.