“I... urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”
~Jude 3b (NIV).
At the risk of taking this verse out of its overtly Christian church context, and perhaps going into some eisegesis, there is nonetheless another very pertinent application that finds us all vulnerable.
The more obedient we become in the faith—and this is our purpose, to become more obedient—the more we’re a threat, on occasion, to the wicked, i.e. immoral, element around us.
The more this occurs the more we are to be instinctually Spiritually resourced of courage in the Lord to respond by contending for the faith, for ‘the faith’ is righteousness.
Keeping Short Account of Self and Others (if/as Appropriate)
We must, as we obey, seek signs and evidence that the faith (or the right way)—as it pertains to life—is upheld, whether in the believing line or not. And we must lead by example, by being totally committed to living aright—where we don’t we threaten God’s cause in our hypocrisy.
As Christians we’re to infuse upon this world we act in the sort of conviction of morality God would expect from us, first in humility and then secondly in devotion to truth, as we call people and situations gently to account, and in grace via the way we do this.
In other words, we’re wise in how we do this. At times even our silence communicates, but again, always in grace.
Physical courage is one thing but moral courage is something totally different. We will need this. Challenging people in non-threatening ways for their bending of justice and the ‘right way,’ requires a heart for their person i.e. for their care as we politely call attention to the things we observe.
We make note of a better way by virtue of the love and equity implicit in this more just and right way. This is not ‘one particular way,’ for there are many ways of achieving the same thing.
‘The Faith’ – the Broader Concept – the Gardening Illustration
Many non-Christians like, or cling to, Christian values—for example, the number that send their children to Christian schools, so their kids can be ‘schooled’ in the Christian way.
If we believe this is God’s world, we should also believe we’re put here as God’s prefects—as his Spirit leads, i.e. to guard what is good about the world.
This is a great responsibility, for not only are we gardeners for him (the term ‘gardener’ comes from the word, ‘guard’) but we’re to be diligent and careful gardeners, ensuring we don’t hurt any of the vegetation.
As we tend to life—and our own lives i.e. that for which God gives us personal charge over—we do ever so fearfully, that we might offend God in the way we ourselves do these things. It is too easy for our good intent to backfire in poor execution.
The ‘fear of the Lord’ protects us from malpractice in this way.
Each heart we touch in life is a precious plant in God’s garden. When we leave the garden each day we want to have enhanced it, and have brought more beauty to it. We want to be able to look at our planting and nurturing as signs that we’ve been a blessing.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.