Today Pastor Michael will close out our summer series through the shortest letters of the New Testament. We’ve called the series the Summer Letters, and today being the last one, it feels a little sad because we all know the last days of summer are among us.
But before we finish up this series, and finish Jude today, there’s something I want to show you. We’ve actually seen it a few times in these short letters. Jude says in verse 3:
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
So notice what’s happening here. Jude wanted to write to the church about their common salvation, but he ended up writing to appeal to them to contend for the faith. He wanted to do one thing, but ended up doing another. We saw this sort of thing in Second and Third John as well. At the end of both of those letters, John says that he’d rather not write a letter with paper and ink, but that instead he wanted to talk face to face. But of course, he wrote that, so he still wrote.
So in both cases, the apostles are doing one thing when they’d rather be doing another. They preferred one way of ministry, but another way became more necessary. And that’s the paradigm I want us to see. There is a difference between ministry preference and ministry necessity. Sometimes (not all the time, but sometimes) there is a difference in us doing what we want and us doing what is needed. There’s a difference in us doing what is most comfortable and what is most important.
And the example we see in Jude and John, and in the apostles throughout the New Testament, is that they often gave up their ministry preference for ministry necessity, and that’s what I want to exhort us to do.
As we enter a new season of ministry this fall, with our new routines and new rhythms, let us navigate our ministry to one another and others based upon their greatest need, not our greatest ease. The first question we should ask ourselves is: What is best not for my comfort, but for the gospel’s advance? That seems to be the pressing question for ministry in the New Testament and I want that to be the question at Cities Church, and this, of course, reminds us of our need to the confess our sins.
Prayer of Confession
Father, we confess that too often we navigate our lives based upon our love for comfort, not your love for us. The values of this world tell us to pick the path of personal fulfillment, to prioritize our ease over anyone and anything else. And too often we do that. You know this, Father. You see this. Our heart’s default in so many moments is our preference over others’ needs; our coziness over the gospel’s advance. And for that we repent, and we ask you to forgive us. Have mercy on us. Because of your patience, and by your grace, we turn away from our disordered loves and we rest in your mercy — your mercy to forgive and your mercy to mobilize. So we ask, oh God, prepare us for the ministries you’re calling us to this fall, as individuals, as Community Groups, as a church. Make this fall be the most fruitful we’ve ever seen. And we know now that if we cherish iniquity in our hearts, our prayers will be ineffectual. So lead us now as we confess our sins to you in silence. . . .