12 "These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”"
There is a song I remember from when I was younger called "She ain't pretty, she just looks that way". She was beautiful on the outside but anything but on the inside. We don't get to choose our appearance or our personality but our character can be molded and the ugly aspects healed if we surrender to the only One who can change hearts.
Jude says there are people in the church who are ruining it for everyone else based on one single trait. They appear to be part of the 'called out ones' but their hearts remain unchanged. The trait that is ruining everything is selfishness.
Think about it - the root problem in the 3 men we have looked at over the last 3 days was selfishness. Cain wanted attention and glory brought to his crops. Balaam was willing to destroy an entire nation just to line his pockets with cash and Korah wanted to be the top dog. All intensely selfish. Selfishness isn't just unattractive or "bad", it's destructive. People get hurt. People die. Car companies have cut corners to save cash that have caused death. Factories have hidden facts that have poisoned local water and made people get sick and die. The Canadian railway was built essentially on slave labour that killed hundreds if not thousands of Chinese workers. All of it greed which is a form of selfishness.
The longer I serve as a pastor the more convinced I become that religion is too often an exercise in selfishness. True religion is the pursuit of the One who died for us. His love is the antidote to selfishness. However the reality is we all seek Him at first for selfish reasons. He has the power to get us things we can't get on our own. Even His disciples blurted out one day "We have left everything for You, what are we going to get?"
But if we never mature past that point of pursuing to get we are no different than a young bombshell marrying a rich old man just to get his inheritance when he dies. Selfish. Religions the world over are nothing more than elaborate schemes to earn a reward. Intensely selfish. These religions were often started by people who saw in the scheme a great way to lone their pockets or increase their power or stroke their egos. Intensely selfish.
Again the antidote is Jesus. There is not a shred of selfishness in Him. He had nothing to gain and everything to lose by coming here. His very life on this planet is a demonstration of the opposite of selfishness. He endured the loneliness of having no one understand him. He endured the hatred of many. He endured the constant attacks, the constant underhanded attempts to misrepresent and trap Him in His words. He endured a society torn by prejudice, racism, greed, false religion, hypocrisy etc... in a word He endured selfishness day after day after day. Even on the cross his own disciples chose self preservation over loyalty to Him - selfishness.
It was His enduring love that became the antidote. His shocking selflessness became the catalyst that turned those 12 men and many others around. We begin pursuing Him for the wrong reasons but the pursuit exposes us to Him and we can't remain in His presence without either becoming like Him or choosing to flee back into the darkness of selfishness like Judas did.
The truth is there will always be Judas' among us. Some are in the process of being healed. Some are committed to never being healed. Either way our calling remains the same. We are to follow Him. We are to endure. We are to be a light in the darkness. If we find ourselves being overwhelmed by the darkness and selfishness in others we clearly are looking in the wrong direction. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. Today. Always. Grace. Always.
Seek the Cure.