“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”
Although these words describe a friend, Helena’s famous line from A Midsummer Night’s Dream could just as easily introduce the book of Jude. Written by Jesus’ half-brother Jude to some of the earliest Christians, this often-overlooked epistle packs a wicked punch. In only 25 verses, Jude efficiently tackles several intimidating but important topics. While addressing challenging subjects like false teachers or God’s judgement may sound like a recipe to drive students away, in reality, our students want and need to hear the whole truth of the gospel – that God saves and transforms sinners through the blood of his Son Jesus.
Given its brevity, Jude offers a unique opportunity to jump into the deep end with students. Moreover, because it covers topics we tend to gloss over, Jude is necessary for our students to help them round out their knowledge of God, and to help them better understand the world around them. In many ways, Jude is a book loaded with the “solid food” Paul writes about (1 Cor. 3:2), stuffed with truths about God, our world, and ourselves that will make students think critically. Still, despite its reputation for heavier themes, Jude also offers incredible promises of security for our students.
With that in mind, here are three truths from that Jude will challenge and comfort your students:
You Will Face False Teachers
I’m not the first to acknowledge this, but as youth workers, we get maybe an hour or two a week with our students. In contrast, school, social lives, and social media dominate our students’ schedules, and as a result, middle and high schoolers are bombarded with information, news, and messaging that so often contradicts the gospel.
In Jude’s day, false teachers had infiltrated the church, sneaking in unannounced with bad theology and worse behavior. Today, our students are surrounded by people who “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Like the rest of the world, “ungodly sinners” (v. 15), “loud-mouth boasters” (v. 16), and people who “defile the flesh” (v. 8) tread the halls of high school, and our students need to know what is the true gospel and what isn’t.
Following Jude’s example as teachers, we must stand firm and “contend for the faith,” even when it’s not popular (v. 3). Even if we’re the only voices pointing our students to the truth, we must trust that the Spirit can work against all odds. But going one step further, like Jude, we want to instruct students who contend for the faith themselves. In high school and in college, students will be challenged because of their faith, and Jude spurs them on. Be courageous! Fight the good fight (1 Tim. 6:12). This doesn’t mean we raise a generation of angry culture warriors, but we must train students to be on their guard against “scoffers” and stand up for the true gospel (v. 18).
God Will Justly Judge Ungodliness
Over the past eighteen months, our students have heard more about justice than ever before. Whether it’s social, racial, economic, or biblical, as human beings created in the image of God, we all crave justice because God cares about justice. While our cultural visions of justice don’t always align with God’s plans for justice, Jude takes a step back and reminds us what is really wrong with the world, and Who is in control. As a result, he dedicates the bulk of the letter (vv. 5-16), to reminding Christians about God’s just judgement on the ungodly.
Whether it is fallen angels (v. 6), immoral gentiles (v. 7), or God’s own people (v. 5), God will always “execute judgement on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way” (v. 15). These verses are challenging, but they simultaneously offer hope and warning for our students. We can rest in confidence, knowing that God will punish all injustice and evil in this world. At the same time, Jude cautions what will happen if we turn away from God: eternal, destructive judgement (vv. 5-7).
Talking about God’s judgement can be daunting, but our students cannot understand God’s justice – or His love – without understanding that He justly judges evil. Jude will challenge our students to think critically about the fallen world around us, how we have all rebelled against God, and how God responds in His justice.
God Will Keep You
Jude begins and ends with one of the most profound promises in all of Scripture. If the challenging topics of false teachers and God’s judgement are the meat and cheese of the sandwich, then God’s promise to keep His people is the bread that holds it all together. Jude opens by writing “to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ” (v. 1). This sets the tone for everything else Jude says: No matter what’s going on in the world around you, as a Christian, you are called, you are beloved, and you are kept for Jesus Christ.
In case we missed this promise the first time, Jude closes his letter with a dramatic doxology (which is worth studying with your students in its own right) that drives the nail home: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you as blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy…” (v. 24). In other words, as a follower of Jesus, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:35-39). He will uphold, sustain, and preserve us here on earth until He brings us home, face-to-face with Him in all His glory, forever. What a remarkable assurance.
Today, our students face challenges and threats on all sides. When confronted with false teachers, dangerous teachings, and immoral behaviors, we want our students to have the confidence to contend for the faith that their lives depend on. When they see evil and injustice in the world, we want students who will fight for justice because they serve a God of justice who is making all things right. And ultimately, both of these things are possible because of Christ’s beautiful promise to keep, sustain, and guard us until He brings us home.
Though just a short book, Jude is loaded with hard-hitting truths that directly apply to our students’ lives. Check out Rooted’s 4-week Curriculum on Jude by visiting rootedreservoir.com.