20 But you, dear friends: build each other up on the foundation of your most holy faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep each other in the love of God, wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will give you eternal life. 22 Have mercy on those who doubt.
We seldom read the little one-chapter letter of Jude. Most scholars are virtually certain the writer was the “Judas” named as one of Jesus' brothers in Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55. In the letter he called himself “brother of James,” Jesus' brother who led the Jerusalem church. His letter mainly warned against false teachers, but in verse 22 he carefully distinguished the false teachers from those who had questions or doubts due to the influence of those who held erroneous beliefs.
Lord Jesus, I take comfort from the mercy you showed the father who wasn’t sure you could help his son, and Thomas who resisted believing you’d risen. Thank you for showing me mercy when I struggle with doubt. Amen.
* Daniel C. Arichea and Howard A. Hatton, A Handbook on the Letter from Jude. New York: United Bible Societies, 1993, p. 56.
Faith has not always been an easy path for me, as my first favorite past-time is overthinking things and my second favorite past-time is being right…about everything.
More often than I’d like to admit, I have lamented to my friends and spiritual mentors that “I wish I didn’t have to wrestle with all of this faith stuff. I wish it was just easy and straightforward and I had all the answers.”
Some people have tried to answer this despair with a quick fix, telling me to just ride it out or not to worry so much. But the people that offer me the most mercy are the ones who ever-so-patiently remind me that doubt can actually be the beginning of something beautiful.
Certainty can be so restrictive and narrow. When I think I have it all figured out, when I insist on being right, I’m quick to judge others and slow to see the miraculous happenings all around me.
Doubt, on the other hand, can actually be expansive. Doubt offers limitless space and creativity by removing all the walls of certainty we build around ourselves. Doubt gives us the room to explore the Scripture and our faith stories with a fresh set of eyes, and to let go of beliefs and practices that are harmful to ourselves and others. When doubt causes me to let go of my tight grip on what I thought I knew, my hands are free to reach for God.
Today’s passage is so simple, yet so life-giving. It is an invitation to do our best, to show one another love, and to offer mercy. An invitation not to panic when our fellow siblings in Christ express their hesitations, but to respond with curiosity and offer them encouragement and understanding instead.
Can I offer you just a little bit of that, dear reader?
Blessed are you when you doubt because you have the opportunity to be surprised again by the abundance of mercy, peace, and love found in God.
And, will you also remind me?
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